THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENCE

EVIDENCE


OTTAWA, Monday, February 6, 2017

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 1 p.m., in public, to examine and report on Canada’s national security and defence policies, practices, circumstances and capabilities; and, in camera, for the consideration of a draft agenda (future business).

Senator Daniel Lang (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for Monday, February 6, 2017.

My name is Daniel Lang, Senator for Yukon. On my immediate left is the clerk of the committee, Adam Thompson, and on the far right is the Library of Parliament analyst, Marcus Pistor.

Before we begin, I would like to note to those watching at home that the Senate made a decision in December to expand the size of the committee from nine to twelve members, and last week we also made a decision to expand the size of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs from five to seven members.

I would like to go around the table and ask each member to introduce themselves, starting with the deputy chair.

Senator Jaffer: Mobina Jaffer and I am from British Columbia.

Senator Kenny: Colin Kenny, Ontario.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: Jean-Guy Dagenais from Quebec.

[English]

Senator White: Vernon White, Ontario.

[Translation]

Senator Saint-Germain: Raymonde Saint-Germain from Quebec.

[English]

Senator Lankin: Frances Lankin, Ontario.

Senator Beyak: Lynn Beyak, Ontario. Welcome.

Senator Boniface: Gwen Boniface, Ontario. Welcome.

Senator Meredith: Don Meredith, Ontario. Welcome.

Senator McPhedran: Welcome. Marilou McPhedran, Manitoba.

The Chair: Today we will be meeting with four panels. During our first panel we will hear from the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Bob Paulson. Accompanying him today is Daniel Dubeau, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Human Resources Officer; Gilles Michaud, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Policing; and Craig MacMillan, Assistant Commissioner, Professional Responsibility Officer.

Commissioner, you can complete the introductions. I understand you have an opening statement.

Bob Paulson, Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Mr. Chair and senators, thank you for the invitation to be here today.

I would like to introduce the newest member of my team here in Ottawa, Assistant Commissioner Louise Lafrance. Louise is the former commanding officer of our training academy in Regina, also known as Depot. She had come to headquarters recently to lead a special unit focusing on workplace culture and engagement. Louise will make sure considerations like diversity, inclusion and GBA+ are parts of our decision-making model for our policies, programs and operational planning.

[Translation]

Let me, before going any further, express on behalf of all RCMP employees, our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of that horrendous attack on a mosque in Quebec City.

[English]

As you know, the RCMP is facing a number of organizational changes that impact our employees. I speak of upcoming changes to our member labour relations system, the categories of employee initiative that will see our civilian members converted to public service employees, and fair pay for our police officers to keep pace with their municipal or provincial counterparts who are in some cases literally their neighbours.

Many of these challenges are largely out of our hands, but we are endeavouring to communicate as much information as we can to our employees. We are taking all steps within our power to improve officer safety, job satisfaction and the overall well-being of our employees in the workplace.

On the topic of officer safety, you may recall that in September the RCMP purchased naloxone kits that can quickly reverse the symptoms of exposure to fentanyl and other dangerous opioids. The kits are being carried by our operational members while on duty for use on their fellow police officers or other employees at risk of accidental exposure. They are also to be used as first-aid treatment for citizens in an emergency situation if an opioid overdose is suspected.

So far, about 85 per cent of our active members or more than 14,000 police officers have been trained on using them. In the context of officer safety and first aid the kits have been used approximately 70 times. Sadly, five of those interventions were unsuccessful. In two cases members who came into contact with the drug successfully administered naloxone to themselves.

More recently, the RCMP has been training its police service dogs to detect fentanyl by transforming pure fentanyl into a liquid form that allows the dogs to train with the real smell of fentanyl without inhaling it. We recently purchased 28 ion scanners to be installed in detachments around the country to quickly test substances for the presence of dangerous or toxic materials like fentanyl.

Meanwhile, we continue to take the fight to the producers and distributors of this deadly drug, and we are working hard to extend our prevention efforts internationally.

[Translation]

Turning to occupational health and safety, our latest annual report on the subject indicates that the three most common types of accidents among our regular members were falls, assaults or violent acts, and bodily exhaustion. While the overall numbers are quite small, we recognize that we need to do everything we can to eliminate or reduce incidents.

[English]

To help keep our members safer in the field, we have also made improvements to officer safety through enhancements to a number of training initiatives and equipment. To point out a few, we have enhanced training for Immediate Action Rapid Deployment, or IARD for short, patrol carbines, crisis intervention and de-escalation in addition to our firearms qualification testing and training.

It was IARD training that helped a single constable convince the suspect in the tragic shootings at the La Loche Community School last year to peacefully give himself up.

This is training has been modified and is now mandatory for all of our police officers.

Another area we have been focused on is crisis intervention and de-escalation training for our members.

[Translation]

Police officers are often the first responders on scene when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. We have a critical role to play when we intervene. That is why in September we launched a new course that is mandatory for all of our members. The course supplements the training provided to cadets at the RCMP Training Academy, and any other training currently offered in RCMP divisions and detachments.

[English]

Our organization understands that police officers are not doctors and should not diagnosis individuals in crises. However, it is important for them to have an understanding of mental health disorders, including their signs and symptoms, in order to conduct effective risk assessments and de-escalate a mental health crisis whenever it is tactically feasible.

In light of our commitment to officer safety we have also implemented new annual firearms qualification testing and training for our members.

On that note, let me say I obviously want the women and men of the RCMP to have the best equipment to secure Canada, uphold the law, protect people and protect them. I am also afraid of the trend in policing for escalating military-style tools being used by law enforcement to conduct police operations, the so-called militarization of policing. The risk is creating an excessive enforcement and use of force mentality in our professional police officers rather than the problem solving, community-oriented prevention approach that is better suited to the Canadian context.

The greatest risk is developing the us-versus-them approach to policing and potentially distancing us from the very people we serve. Things such as the style of uniform, the use of force options we provide and the tactics we deploy all contribute to how the Canadian public sees us and feel about us. We need to be thoughtful, consultative and deliberate in these areas.

[Translation]

That is one of the reasons why we have integrated lessons learned by all police forces and other stakeholders, and built our expertise to focus on training such as de-escalation. We want to equip our members with the skills to intervene safely and effectively, while providing alternatives to lethal force and more aggressive tactics.

[English]

Another matter I would like to address is vacancies and resourcing. Like any large organization we deal with vacancies on an ongoing basis. We also have the added challenge of having to fill highly specialized positions in cities and communities all across Canada.

The RCMP remains committed to filling the vacancies and addressing resource issues on the frontlines to ensure we can continue to meet the demands of our changing threat environment and ensuring our officers are safe.

We also launched a resourcing review in August 2016 to assess whether our overall funding envelope is sufficient to effectively deliver on our mandate of keeping Canadians safe.

The assessment being conducted by a professional third party firm focuses on horizontal or program-specific funding deficiencies or surpluses. It explores opportunities for greater efficiencies such as reprioritization of resources, adjustment to program design, or elimination of activities peripheral to the RCMP's mandate.

Let me now turn to the subject of workplace health and well-being. RCMP officers are only human. They deal with the same life stressors as every other Canadian, with the added risk of physical and psychological work-related injuries that are inherent to police work.

Work-related stress and mental illness is a real issue for employees and one that we take seriously. The 2016-17 action plan which supports the five-year RCMP mental health strategy is underway. The plan supports three strategic goals: first, to eliminate the stigma of mental health injuries; second, to take proactive steps to help employees maintain and improve their psychological health; and third, to improve the management and review of psychological health and safety programs and services.

[Translation]

There is much more work to do to ensure every employee is fully supported and feels safe seeking help when they need it, but we are committed to making this a reality.

[English]

The RCMP has no tolerance for the outdated attitude that mental health injuries are not real, and we will continue to counter such attitudes with education and awareness. We have work to do, though, and with the support of our various partners in government we can and will do better.

The Government of Canada has supported the RCMP in settling the class action lawsuit launched by female members and employees. We are implementing the terms and conditions of that agreement which will strengthen the force's work toward transforming our workplace.

Pending consultation with our contracting partners, we will also make improvements to some of the supplemental health benefits available to our police officers.

The health of our force is a top priority for me and my senior management colleagues. The increases to our benefit coverage will help to keep our officers healthy as we continue into the year ahead. We continue to take over 2.5 million calls for service from Canadians each and every year.

We have made strides over the years toward improving our workplace and the well-being of our people, while recognizing there is still much to do. We remain committed to addressing the concerns of our employees, balancing them against the needs and expectations of the public we serve, and ensuring everyone is informed and aware of the changes that are made.

The RCMP is a unique Canadian enterprise. It is not a municipal police force. It is hundreds of them with accountabilities to municipal governments and police boards. It is not a territorial police force. It is three of them with accountability to three territorial governments. Neither is it a provincial police force. It is eight of them, again with accountability to eight provincial governments and all of the oversight systems and processes each have in place.

The RCMP's core mandate is federal policing. We perform all of these other roles under contract to these jurisdictions. Because we are a federal police force, we are overseen by and accountable to a vast array of oversight and accountability bodies, beyond even those in our contracted jurisdictions.

Because we do all these things and because we mostly get it right, Canadians can be proud of their police enterprise known as the RCMP. With that, my colleagues and I would be pleased to answer any questions you have.

The Chair: Colleagues, I would ask you to be concise with your questions and I would ask you, commissioner, to be concise with your responses. Time is short and there are a lot of issues which you obviously haven't touched on that members will be raising during the course of our hearing.

Senator Kenny: I have questions in three areas, but first I would like to make a brief comment about the class action that is currently underway.

We saw the ads run in the paper last week. We're hearing from people who have received individual letters to participate. I think it would be fair to say that I, at least, am impressed with the six classes of payment that you have worked out from $20,000 up to $220,000.

The process seems like a positive one. Each complainant will go to Mr. Justice Bastarache who will be the sole person to decide what the award will be. All of the people who go through the process have the right to pursue the matter further in the courts if they're so inclined.

I just wanted to say well done. This is an important step in terms of changing the image of the RCMP, particularly with potential employees who I think will feel these people are going into a process that will treat them respectfully and acknowledge that they had a difficult time. I wanted to make that comment. I don't know if you have anything further that you would like to say regarding the class action.

Mr. Paulson: I thank you for your comments. Years of work have gone into finding that appropriate balance of privacy for the complainants. It's much more than just the monetary settlement. There are significant organizational changes that we've committed to as well.

I think it is a positive development. Thank you for your comments.

Senator Kenny: I wanted to raise the question of staffing shortages because they're of great concern. A year ago the minister that you report to said that you can't give the RCMP a mandate and demand it performs miracles and then not provide the resources necessary for the job.

We've seen some resources go to you for cybersecurity and counter-radicalization, but you seem to be plagued with understaffing just about everywhere else. I go back to the Brown task force report in 2007, wherein he said every detachment he visited was 30 per cent short of people. You appeared before this committee a year ago and told us you had transferred 450 individuals out of white collar crime to assist in counterterrorism. What have you done to obtain more people to come and work in the RCMP for the additional responsibilities that you're getting?

Mr. Paulson: Very quickly, what we've done is we have a vacancy management approach that is looked after by Deputy Commissioner Dubeau and a team. We aim to have between 4 and 5 per cent vacancy across our various jurisdictions. It is not ideal, but a fair, balanced and thoughtful approach to how the vacancies are shared across the country.

Then we have the KPMG review of our resourcing across the board, which will hopefully finally settle with evidence and with a detailed examination of efficiencies, effectiveness and requirements that will inform a way going forward that the government seems to have undertaken to support and address the findings of that report.

Senator Kenny: You still end up with it having an impact on stress for frontline officers. You have a situation where there's a shortage of backup and therefore you have health and safety problems. You know these problems far better than I do. Why would you accept a 4 or 5 per cent gap as being satisfactory in an organization that has 17,000 regular police?

Mr. Paulson: I don't accept it as being satisfactory but I aim to bring change through deliberate and transparent processes that seek to understand the drivers. As I've said in other areas of resourcing stress on our employees and overworked employees is a failure of management rather than the amount of resources.

We have to prioritize our work, let our employees do what they can, make sure they're properly supervised and managed, and meanwhile argue effectively, thoughtfully and transparently for more resources.

Senator Kenny: You know that you will have shortages. When you have detachments as small as three and four people you know that losing one person is a very significant problem.

Mr. Paulson: Indeed, and in that regard we've developed some innovative approaches to compensate for those circumstances. In some divisions, for example, they will have a team of people that will go into the small detachments to support because one person from a three-person detachment is a serious hurt. We have some strategies to get us to the point where we can say: Here is what the resourcing need is; here is what we can do with what we’ve got. Anything else will have to be put aside.

Senator Kenny: The message you're giving the committee is that you're satisfied with the way things are, that you have sufficient resources to do the job and that everything is okay.

Mr. Paulson: That would be an alternative interpretation of what I just said. That is not what I said.

Senator Kenny: It's sometimes nice to hear what someone else hears you say and that's what I'm doing. I'm telling you. You're sitting there and you sound awfully smug that everything is fine in terms of staffing, and I'm telling you what we hear.

Mr. Paulson: I didn't say that, senator. I didn't say everything was fine. I agree that there's a resourcing shortage. I've enumerated it. I understand that it exists. We've deployed strategies to help our members in the field cope with it. We've deployed a very deliberate strategy to address it. We have deployed another strategy to prioritize our work. I'm not sitting here saying it is all blue skies and butterflies, senator. I'm not saying that.

Senator Kenny: Have you put the case that you need more people?

Mr. Paulson: Yes. We're doing that. I just explained to you the KPMG efficiency and resourcing study that is going across all our business lines.

Senator Kenny: Are you asking the government for more people?

Mr. Paulson: I'm going to ask the government for more people when I have the evidence to persuade the people with the money to give me more people. In the provinces we get more people all the time because there's an evidence-built case around that. Municipalities are asking for new bodies all the time and we provide them. It's a very complex enterprise that we're running over here.

Senator Kenny: On the subject of pay, the RCMP hasn't had a raise for three years. We still have figures coming back which shock Canadians that a first-class constable ranks 57th out of 82 Canadian police forces. When you're comparing total pay for members of the RCMP, the RCMP ends up being 14.5 per cent less than the other ones. Why are we not paying the RCMP a salary commensurate with the work they're doing? Then the problems that you have recruiting will not be so bad,

Mr. Paulson: Indeed, we are pursuing that very point.

Senator Kenny: What are you doing?

Mr. Paulson: I'm asking the government for more money.

Senator Kenny: What do they tell you back?

Mr. Paulson: Stand by.

Senator Kenny: They've been saying that for a year plus.

Mr. Paulson: Drop a dime.

Senator Kenny: I'd love to drop a dime but it's not a satisfactory situation.

Mr. Paulson: Indeed.

Senator Kenny: That's short and sweet. My last question has to do with equipment. I'm particularly interested in the recommendation coming out of Alphonse McNeil's report about carbines. Are we at a stage now where all of the vehicles that are used in general policing have a carbine, and all of the people that are in those vehicles have been trained to use carbines?

Mr. Paulson: We've never sort of targeted all of the people in police cars and all of the police cars to have it. We are advancing along in terms of our deployment of carbines across the country. In terms of the training it is proceeding very well. Recruits are trained out of Depot now. I have the number somewhere in this this book and I can find them for you later on.

Senator Kenny: Could somebody send us the metrics?

Mr. Paulson: Sure.

Senator White: Congratulations on your work on naloxone. I know it's a huge issue particularly in Western Canada. I appreciate it.

I wonder if you could walk us through or have Deputy Dubeau walk us through the impact you're having when it comes to losing members as a result of a lack of benefits and pay. We've had a couple leave the Hill in the last few months and join the OPP, I believe. I wonder if you can walk us through that and from a financial perspective the difference in pay — the last report I saw was 2014 — between OPP, RCMP and RCMP Calgary, a couple of the top services, just so we understand the numbers.

Mr. Paulson: Before I hand it over to Deputy Dubeau, it is definitely forming part of our arguments and rationale with the government to get our pay raise. We are seeing increasingly across the country, frankly, people leaving the force in British Columbia to go to Vancouver, people leaving the force in Alberta to go to Calgary, to go to Edmonton, and the examples you've just cited. It is a real drain on our existing resources. We are always in competition with other police forces. Dan may have the stats by now.

Daniel Dubeau, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Human Resources Officer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: I am looking for the stats. We can send you the report itself. Senator Kenny was right. We're approximately right now 14.4 per cent behind the top three. Senator, if you look at our base pay we're at 72 now. We are almost at the bottom of the list. We looked at a police force of 50 police officers. That is what we compare ourselves to. We're about 72 of a list of 80-something. We're near the bottom end. When you factor in all the benefits we're 14 per cent. I can share that with you.

That is an issue. We are losing members, not at the rate everyone would think because the other forces are not hiring. If the other forces were hiring more, you might see more of a transition. We have seen in the past other police forces reaching into our members and offering them signing bonuses. They're actually quoting the pay as an issue. That is an issue. The numbers themselves are hard to track because not every member will tell us when they're leaving.

Senator White: If I may, just as an example, I think you guys are at about $84,000 now for a first-class constable.

Mr. Dubeau: Yes.

Senator White: Calgary is at $102,000 and Alberta at $105,000, so it is almost $20,000 per year.

Mr. Dubeau: Yes, you can start at Vancouver. I believe Calgary is about $20,000. It's quite a gap and it’s becoming harder.

That is why, as the commissioner said, we have engaged the government, our minister's office, about getting us a pay raise, trying to bring us up maybe not to par but at least down a path where we can start closing that gap a bit. That is becoming more and more of an issue where members are doing the same work sometimes in more dire situations and they're getting paid less.

Mr. Paulson: Joint forces operations.

Senator White: Same cars, different pay.

Mr. Dubeau: I can try to get you the numbers, senator. They are hard to track, depending on how the members sign off on their retirement. If they are leaving to go to another force they might not tell us.

Senator White: My second question is similar. We talked about vacancy rates of 3 or 4 per cent, which doesn't sound so bad, but those are actual empty spots. We don't include in that, I take it, mat or pat leave, accommodated members, sick leave and long-term sick leave. What percentage would we be at on those vacancy rates instead of 3 or 4 per cent? Would it be 9, 10 or 11 per cent?

Mr. Dubeau: For the actual vacancy rates I would have to pull out the charts we worked through. When you start with your vacancy patterns, which are about 5 per cent as the commissioner said, and all the other leave like sick leave and that, you could be up in the double digits.

Senator White: Up to 10 plus.

Mr. Dubeau: Yes. Depending on the area you could be even higher. Up North where you have smaller detachments, as Senator Kenny said, if you lose one person and you're a third, you have to backfill. We have different strategies to put people up there for relief so we can get our members out not only for medical appointments or other issues but even for holidays. We are working on that with our COs very closely to ensure our members get their rest.

Senator White: My last short question, if it's okay, is for Assistant Commissioner Lafrance. You just came from Depot, I understand, last summer. I know it is six months old now but I'm sure it's still fresh.

You've changed the rules around hiring. You've dropped the entrance exam for university. I think you are the only police service in Canada that does not have an entrance exam for any applicants, by the way, other than direct entries. From your perspective, has that had a positive impact on the number of people getting into training and graduating, or has it just increased the number of people coming through the application door?

Mr. Dubeau: I will answer that question because those changes would have been under HR and not under the Depot. There has been an improvement.

When it came down to the entrance exam it was as simple as this: When we asked our experts what we are testing for in the entrance exam, we are just testing for academic levels so they could actually go through Depot and pass. That's all it was.

When we dropped it, we dropped it for university graduates because when we did an analysis most of our university graduates were going into Depot and doing very well. They weren't passing and failing on academics. Now we have expanded that.

That opened up the pool and we are getting more people coming into the force now. We want to bring up our education level in the force that's a way to attract those cohorts, not only university graduates but college graduates with two-year degrees. We have very specific parameters.

We were able to get more coming in. Right now we're at 7,300. We were aiming at 34 troops for this year. With Depot at 32 we are going to meet that target. It has worked. We were able to attract more. I have heard the CBSA has adopted the same model. Now they are dropping the entrance exam for university graduates. If you're testing them on academics that they have already been tested on in university, it is duplication.

Senator White: Are we seeing the diversity of recruiting, though? It used to be 10 per cent Aboriginal, 20 per cent diverse community and 30 per cent women. Are we hitting those targets as well or have we dropped them? I can't remember if we did or not.

Mr. Dubeau: We haven't hit those targets. With our gender and respect tactic we were targeting 50 per cent women. We are at about 25 per cent right now, only because the numbers have got so big. We are at 75 per cent white male.

Senator White: Is that from a recruiting perspective or in the organization?

Mr. Dubeau: That we are hiring. You asked me what we're sending through Depot right now. We're hiring about 850 currently: 75 per cent would be white males, 25 per cent or thereabouts would be females, and 15 per cent visible would be minorities. Aboriginals would be about 3 per cent, which is an issue for us. We want to bring that up.

Overall it is bringing up the makeup of the force. The labour market availability is just not there. ESDC has provided us numbers. There are going to be 23,000 police jobs open in the next few years with only 21,000 applicants. We know right now we're in a competitive market. It's hard to attract people to our force not only with the pay, but working conditions are quite different where they have to be mobile and be able to move around.

The Chair: It was reported this morning that they are at least 1,000 officers short within the RCMP. We've also been told that there have been 450 personnel moved from the white collar drug area to the terrorist file. That's 1,450 personnel that in one way or the other haven’t been replaced to our knowledge.

In respect to the examination that's underway, first, when can we expect a proposal going before the government to be able to take care of the question of the financing so that you can pay the personnel in the manner that they should be paid and, second, get the increased staff so you can do the job you're being asked to do? When do you expect that to be done and when do you expect a decision to be made?

Mr. Paulson: The pay is being actively sought. It's in somebody else's hands right now. We have asked for a pay raise consistent with the business case that the no longer existent pay council put together to start to turn the corner. That is with the government; you should ask them.

With respect to resourcing we are wrapping up that KPMG study. Given budget cycles, report preparation and so on, I would think in the next couple of years we should have some clarity around that.

At the same time it needs to be said we have contracting partners that are also part of this discussion such as municipalities and provinces. We have a contract management committee that we are very accountable to. When we make changes to how we do business, whether it is recruiting, training or whatever, they need to be consulted. I am not saying it's a drag because it's a very positive relationship that needs to be factored in.

It's quite complex, which is not to say I am trying to avoid the answer, but the momentum is swinging very strongly toward all of these things: pay raise, resourcing and systems to prioritize work. Those things are all coming together, so I would say in the next couple of years we should have that completed.

The Chair: When will the KPMG study be completed?

Mr. Paulson: It was supposed to be done by now but it's not, so I would say in the next couple of months or in the next three months probably.

The Chair: Perhaps we'll pursue this further.

Senator Jaffer: I have a supplementary question on what Senator White was asking. Did you say there were 25 per cent women at the present moment or is that the aim in the force?

Mr. Paulson: The aim is 30 per cent. We set an objective recognizing that ultimately we would like them to be 50 per cent of the force. Our short-term objective, which is 2026 or 2030 perhaps, is 30 per cent. We need to have a very big intake of women into the recruiting system in order to change the numbers we have now.

Right now I believe we're at about 21 or 22 per cent women in the force, which is an accomplishment. It's more than the labour market availability, but that should not be the limiting factor in how we approach recruiting women. We need to change the force. We need to change the attractiveness of the force to women and other target groups.

Our intake right now is about 25 per cent. That's not going to have a big impact on the existing 21 per cent rate. We need to go up. We need 50 per cent women coming into Depot to have a noticeable change in our short-term numbers.

Senator Jaffer: How about ethnic minorities?

Mr. Paulson: Similarly. For example, with Aboriginals I think we're at 8 per cent.

Mr. Dubeau: Right now the rate for our Aboriginal members would be 8 per cent. Our visible minorities are probably about 10 per cent or 10.5 per cent currently, today.

Senator Jaffer: What is the long-term goal?

Mr. Dubeau: I believe for our visible minorities we're shooting for 10 per cent visible minorities and 20 per cent Aboriginal. I think that is where we are going. I will have to get back to you, senator, with the targets, but those are the benchmarks.

Mr. Paulson: We're engaged with the broader security and intelligence community in the federal government on tiger-teaming our various approaches.

For example, CSC has some very good initiatives where they go out and recruit in a certain way. We recruit in a way that we have always recruited. We have already gotten together. The government has been pretty clear on their expectations around innovating in our approaches to some of these issues. We're engaged in that actively.

Senator Jaffer: I would like a clarification and then I'll ask my question after.

In your remarks you said that you had created a special unit. What do you mean by special? Is it temporary? Why is it called special? It is focusing on workplace culture and engagement and looking at diversity inclusion and GBA. I guess that means gender-based assessment.

What is the mandate? Is the mandate in writing and for how long? Will you also look at workplace harassment; not sexual but workplace harassment? Is it both for civilians and non-civilians?

Mr. Paulson: This is an excellent opportunity for me to stop talking and invite Assistant Commissioner Lafrance to speak.

Senator Jaffer: Before you stop talking I want to know from you, sir, what is her mandate. Is it in writing?

Mr. Paulson: It is in writing.

Senator Jaffer: Can we have a copy?

Mr. Paulson: It's all of those things that you just asked me about. You would be better informed by letting her describe to you what it is.

Louise Lafrance, Assistant Commissioner and Director General, Workforce Culture and Employee Engagement, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: You are bang on. The mandate is GBA, gender-based analysis plus, which is inclusive of everything. It is not only gender. It has to do with visible minorities and Aboriginals, everything from sexual orientation to language, et cetera and ensuring that it is integrated in every policy and everything that we do in training in the RCMP. It's a long project so it will not be temporary.

It creates an oversight on everything in the past as far as the recommendations from various reports. I look at these reports to ensure that an initiative or a recommendation has been met. Did it really work? Can I make a linkage between them?

Trying to switch from focusing on the negative to focusing on the positive, the good, positive behaviour in the organization is very difficult for members and all of our employees.

You asked if it was only for members; not at all. That's why it's called workforce, cultural and employee engagement. It's everybody because we're a big team. We say often that we are a family. It's taking care of each other.

We looked at everything we are doing right now. Instead of reinventing everything we have been doing in the past, we are putting that together and making sure that people understand the good things we're doing and the negative behaviour we've had in the RCMP.

It will not change overnight. It will take time. I can tell you one thing as a female in this organization. I've been around for a long time. If I did not believe there was willingness at the top and at all levels of the organization to change and to move on with our culture and changing the way we do things, I would not have accepted this position.

Senator Jaffer: My question wasn't that.

Ms. Lafrance: I am sorry.

Senator Jaffer: What is your mandate? I would like to see a copy of your written mandate. My question also is: How large is your team and what resources are you given to do your job?

Ms. Lafrance: My team is being built as we speak. We are in phase one right now. I just started this.

Senator Jaffer: Is it just you?

Ms. Lafrance: No, no. I have a team. The commissioner has given me carte blanche. He said, “Tell me what you need.” This is what we determine within phase one. He didn't give me limits; he didn't give me parameters. He said, “Tell me what we need to move this forward,” and that is what I'm doing.

Senator Jaffer: How long will phase one last?

Ms. Lafrance: Until December 2017.

Senator Jaffer: My main question to you, commissioner, is as follows. In the last two weeks the environment in the world changed. For us who are Muslims our world really changed. It's not a good time to be a Muslim.

Bill C-51, the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act; Bill C-44, the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act; and Bill C-13, the anti-cyberbullying act all allow you, sir, to share information with the U.S.

In light of what has happened what safeguards are you putting in place to protect Canadians?

Mr. Paulson: I would say it has changed. It was a very shocking and upsetting development and I understand why you feel the way you do. I think that goes back to your previous questions.

I will be very brief, chair, and just say that I've been here numerous times talking with you about our issues in respect of workplace conduct. What Louise and her team are doing is much broader than simply counting how many harassment complaints we've had and how they turned out. Now we're engaged in the broader discussion about inclusiveness and about real engagement with our citizens and ourselves. That is part of the cultural change we have been targeting for many years.

With respect to your comments about the various pieces of legislation under review, it's very important in policing that we be very proactive in sharing information and that we be very smart and transparent about how we share that information. With respect specifically to your question about the Americans, we've seen this movie before.

Senator Jaffer: We have.

Mr. Paulson: We have. In fact the CRCC is actively engaged right now in doing a specific special interest review of how we the RCMP have deployed the changes to our national security operations with respect to the O'Connor recommendations which, as you will know, speak specifically to sharing information, the testing of the qualifying of the information, the caveating of the information, the international sharing and the torture issues. All those systems and processes are being validated as we speak. They have kept us in good stead since they were deployed.

I feel very confident about how smart and transparent we are being around our information sharing. Hopefully we can get you to that level of comfort and confidence in what we're doing.

Senator Jaffer: Commissioner, I have had the pleasure to work with the Arar family for a very long time, since the time he was wrongfully sent to Syria. That family suffers every day. No amount of compensation will ever stop that family from suffering. It is not just him, but his family: his children and his wife.

 I don't want another Maher Arar. I want to hear from you what one thing you are putting in place right now to protect Canadian rights; not share information with the U.S but will protect Canadians.

Mr. Paulson: I don't want me leaving here, senator, thinking that we're not sharing information with the U.S.

Senator Jaffer: No, I know you are sharing. That's a given. What are you doing?

Mr. Paulson: We're making sure that the information we have and we share are for purposes that are considered by the existing legislation; that our information is fact checked; that it's conditioned; that its reliability is fairly described; that its origins have been fairly described; that the information is caveated; and that all the limits Mr. Justice O'Connor found to be appropriate, given what he found in his inquiries, are being applied.

We have opened our books in terms of the CRCC coming in to have a look at how we manage national security information, including information shared with international partners. We fully expect them to have a view. I am highly confident that it will be complimentary and positive, but there it is: The books are open. Come and look.

The Chair: Is the CRCC the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission?

Mr. Paulson: Yes. I believe they have been here before you.

The Chair: It's just that the viewers would not understand who you are referring to. It is the oversight organization.

Mr. Paulson: Yes. They just recently, at the same time Bill C-42 came into existence, acquired new powers to be able to do policy based reviews, chair initiated reviews, specified interest reviews and specified activity reviews. They can come in, open the fridge and go where they want, which was not the case formerly.

The Chair: Colleagues, I will be stricter as we move along here. I have been a bit lax in respect to trying to get everybody included.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: Thank you, Commissioner. I have two questions for you. The first one is about radicalization. Our committee has already expressed its concerns about the few legal actions launched in Canada despite the number of radicalized persons, approximately 160 to 180.

Some journalists are currently working on a dossier about the Montreal-Trudeau Airport, as some radicalized persons could be among the airport personnel. I don’t know if you are aware of that. Perhaps we need to identify these people and find out whether they are the subject of investigations in Canada or Quebec.

Can you reassure Canadians, and our committee, that none of the people you have suspicions about currently is employed by public services or by a Canadian agency?

Mr. Paulson: I would like to be able to give you the reassurance you seek, but I’m not certain that I can. I’m going to ask Deputy Commissioner Michaud to speak to you about our approach to this.

Gilles Michaud, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Policing, Royal Canadian Mounted Policy: It’s difficult to answer that question on communication with the public as to who is radicalized and who is not. Our approach and efforts to counter radicalization include other police forces, and various social services.

People whom we feel are radicalized and want to use violence as a way to manifest their beliefs are investigated. I wish to reassure the Canadian public by saying that if people are known to us as being radicalized and want to resort to violence, they are investigated.

Senator Dagenais: You know, often people who are radicalized are going to try to do things, and airports are places where they can get public visibility. Take as an example what happened at the Fort Lauderdale airport. Often they will attack in registration areas or baggage pick-up areas. When I was informed of this, it worried me. However, I understand that you cannot disclose information about ongoing investigations here.

Here is my second question, Commissioner. Last June, you told our committee that you could live with your members’ unionization without the exclusions that were contained in Bill C-7. Consequently, we amended the bill in accordance with that, as you know. However, since that time, the government has been totally silent regarding its intentions to allow RCMP police to unionize. We have not heard much about it.

Can you tell us whether you or members of RCMP management have worked since then with the government to move Bill C-7 forward, or to prepare a new bill on the unionization of the RCMP police?

Mr. Paulson: First, I would say that there is a bill on public services. If there was an initiative to launch unionization, there would be a way to do that, currently.

The answer to the second part of your question is yes, we worked with the government after I appeared before the committee. We did work with the government, and the file is in the hands of the government.

Senator Dagenais: I would have one last comment; earlier we heard about classification in connection with salaries and benefits. Perhaps unionization could help you to solve your problems. Thank you.

[English]

Senator Meredith: Thank you very much, commissioner, for being here with your team. I want to convey to all officers under your command our appreciation for the work they do responding to various crises, especially the Desmond situation in Nova Scotia over the holidays, and so forth.

As my colleague Senator Jaffer indicated the world has changed. When it comes to identifying and collecting information it has been widely reported that recently you gave access to CBC and the Toronto Star with respect to the technological and legal impediments of collection of evidence to allow the RCMP to bring charges forward.

Can you elaborate a bit for me on that, why you had to go to that extreme, and the impact that it will have on section 83? Will you be providing such access to us as a committee as well?

Mr. Paulson: Let me start with the last one first. I'm happy to respond to specific areas of interest that the committee may have. If we can have conversations that are consistent with what the CBC and the Toronto Star were interested in, I would be happy to pursue that.

Without getting into any specifics or causing any trouble, my objective and the force's objective at engaging and opening our books to the media a bit is that the cybercrime dimension of the larger cyber issue is often put aside as these grander discussions around global cybersecurity take place.

My point was that evidence collection, evidence testing and evidence production in support of criminal justice responses to events that happen in society are being impacted. A serious conversation that must take place among policy-makers is around how we want to move forward in this digital world. I was simply trying to illustrate that while privacy is a valid, important and indeed crucial element of our freedoms that we enjoy, it sometimes comes up against how we encounter evidence in the digital world. The two don't seem to have been resolved satisfactorily.

We need to think that through. I have strong views about it, but I don't need to necessarily put them on anybody except to say that policy-makers and lawmakers should interest themselves in these problems because if they are not on your desk today they will be on your desk tomorrow, and they are coming like a freight train.

Senator Meredith: That was very well put in terms of just the information that needs to come forward, especially when it deals with a specific threat. We saw the situation with respect to the radicalized individual, Aaron Driver, in Strathroy, Ontario, who was subsequently killed. He had obviously a peace bond and the courts lowered that.

What should we be doing right now as lawmakers to protect Canadians when it comes to individuals who are identified as being radicalized in some way, who have been in the courts and so forth?

Mr. Paulson: With respect specifically to the lessons that we learned from the Driver case I would say a couple of things. We have to find ways of not only putting conditions on the individual to whom we are providing the peace bond, but we need some mechanism to be able to validate those conditions. In other words, it's nice to be able to say don't use the computer, but if you can't go in and check whether he's using the computer then we're back to square one.

As a police force we have to be smarter in how we manage these peace bonds. When I was here years ago arguing for peace bonds, I was saying it was kind of like the Al Capone sort of approach, right? Maybe we can't get the evidence for the terrorist financing case and maybe we can't get the evidence for the substantive terrorist offence, but if we can get you on a peace bond and then surveil you until you violate it, which you likely will, then that's a strategy and that's a valid strategy. We have to be smart around how we manage that.

Similarly we have to manage expectations. The terrorist peace bond is a very important tool, but it's not the be-all and end-all to the question of radicalization or terrorism. It is just simply one tool in the box that we use and we have used increasingly to effect and to be able to have the state force the individual into some process by which his or her radicalized state gets examined and managed.

Senator Meredith: In terms of resources Senator Kenny talked about the lack of resources. How will you deploy in terms of to ensure that Canadians are protected, given the various cells that are allegedly operating in this country, the surveillance of them and the protection of Canadians?

Mr. Paulson: As I've described we prioritize. We prioritize based on the threat that the criminal problem presents to us. Regarding terrorism there is zero appetite in Canada for any sort of level of terrorism to exist. Therefore we have a zero fail approach. It's very resource intensive. That's why we're taking some of the resources out of some of the other areas which may not have the same priority level. Meanwhile, we argue and demonstrate that we need more resources to do those new pieces of work.

Senator Boniface: To follow up on the lawful access issue, I know this is a worldwide issue. Do you have any other jurisdiction that you would point to where you think they've struck the balance with privacy?

Mr. Paulson: Often we look at the U.K. and we say the U.K. has a good approach on intel to evidence. They have a good approach to access to subscriber info and so on. There are other Western countries that do the same thing. Our own challenge is to have our own discussion about privacy, which seems to have taken over, frankly. I don't want to be the guy who is not supportive of privacy. I am, and that needs to be balanced against what we're trying to do, which is keep Canadians safe.

That's always the intention, it seems. I'm not the expert on both sides. I might have some expertise in one area, but we need to have that adult conversation.

Senator Lankin: The issue of intel to evidence and where the challenges are right now facing you, I'd appreciate hearing a bit about that. When you were asked about the access that had been granted to the media, clearly you were attempting to show, to disclose and be transparent about some of the challenges that policing face with respect to cyber-threats.

You made a statement you thought there was a misunderstanding in your own opinion about the privacy threat. There's a lot of empathy for how difficult the world is becoming in terms of the cyber-threat that is there, but there's also a lot of real concern about potential abuse of citizens' rights, in particular privacy.

Could you tell us about the intel to evidence issue and what you meant when you said that there was a misunderstanding about “the privacy threat”?

Mr. Paulson: I'll deal with the last one first. What I meant was that when I come out and say, for example as I've said, that we should have warrantless access despite the Supreme Court decision people think I'm a heretic. They say, “Show us the evidence that says this is so serious that would warrant re-examining it.” That's what we were trying to do there.

My view was that the privacy discussion had gotten away from the practical reality, which is there are some serious impediments to our being able to advance our criminal investigations through the charter and through existing legislation. That's what I meant.

The intel to evidence issue is one that our colleagues at the service and us and others continually work on. Mostly it's a function of practice, I would assert, between the RCMP and the intelligence service. We've done incredible work in the last several years of bringing us together in the so-called one vision approach to managing the threat and we are continuing to work on that. I don't know that there is a legislative fix for intel to evidence.

Professor Forcese just wrote in his blog, in my opinion, a very instructive piece on how intel to evidence should be understood and what challenges are there. We need to come to ground on that because it does get in the way sometimes of our ability to bring forward a criminal justice outcome to Canadians to see the process that is at play.

At the same time the intelligence interests around keeping our intelligence work safe and secret sources and methods not exposed to the hardship of the criminal justice process has some merit too. Those two things need to be reconciled. We try to do it through practice and we need to evolve our practice.

[Translation]

Senator Saint-Germain: Commissioner, I thank you and your colleagues for being here, and I would like to mention the respect with which you answer our questions. This merits respect on our part as well.

I have two questions on the prevention or anticipation of certain issues; in the first case, I am thinking of the anticipation of hate crimes, and in the second, about harassment issues and intimidation at work.

Regarding hate crimes, in your presentation you made a timely reference to recent and tragic events that took place in Quebec’s large mosque. Do you think that in compliance with the law, and given the tools at your disposal currently, collaboration among the various police services is sufficient? I am thinking especially of Canada’s domestic police forces, that is to say provincial and municipal police. Are there any concrete means in the short term to improve that co-operation so that you may benefit from better information sharing, and be able to prevent incidents better for the benefit of all citizens?

Mr. Paulson: Thank you for your question. It is a very important issue, and we saw first-hand the efforts that served us well in relation to the attack in Quebec City.

I am going to ask Deputy Commissioner Michaud to explain how we managed the situation in cooperation with the Sûreté du Québec, Quebec City and the city of Montreal. In Quebec City, we were able to address the challenges in cooperation with the police forces. The same is true elsewhere, in other provinces, but there is still some work to do in that regard.

Mr. Michaud: As I understand it, your question is general and does not pertain solely to the events in Quebec City.

Senator Saint-Germain: Precisely. The tragedy in Quebec City exemplifies why we must do more to prevent hate crimes, particularly against the Muslim community, and for the sake of all Canadians.

Mr. Michaud: All police forces work together on a daily basis when it comes to sharing intelligence. Police forces under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service share information on organized crime, hate crimes and so forth. That applies to every police force across the country, be it municipal, provincial or even federal, in the case of the RCMP.

In that sense, I would say the information sharing is timely and appropriate, and I think the cooperation among all of the forces in deploying personnel in response to the Quebec City incident demonstrates that. It is an excellent example.

Senator Saint-Germain: Forgive me, but I must interrupt you. I realize you are talking about this event, specifically, but I am wondering more about the future. It’s an issue that is ultimately in the best interest of all Canadians. Have you drawn any lessons as to what all police forces could do when it comes to sharing information and preventing incidents like this?

Say a Canadian were thinking about committing a similar act right now. Are you properly equipped? Could you be better equipped, while respecting privacy considerations currently set out in the Charter and legislation?

Mr. Michaud: The short answer is yes. In the case of the attack in Quebec City, there is nothing to suggest that any information was not shared. It is still too early to say for sure, though, given that we have to conduct an analysis and after action review to ascertain what happened. For the time being, however, we have nothing to indicate that any pre-existing information would have led us to believe the event was forthcoming.

I would say that, by and large, in the area of organized crime, the information-sharing mechanism in place countrywide is highly effective.

Senator Saint-Germain: Thank you.

Now, in June 2013, the committee recommended that you put in place an ombudsman to better prevent and resolve instances of workplace bullying and harassment, as an alternative to the courts. Since then, the RCMP has had to spend $100 million to settle class action lawsuits arising from harassment allegations and workplace bullying.

Does your prevention strategy include plans to implement that recommendation and ultimately establish the position of an independent mediator, like an ombudsman, who would be responsible for dealing with such labour relations issues?

Mr. Paulson: No. We discussed the usefulness of an ombudsman. In my view, an accountability mechanism at the federal, provincial and municipal levels is in place. Our harassment prevention program is beginning to show that the measure is successful. I have often talked about the prevention component in Bill C-42. We are beginning to receive meaningful data in support of the prevention measures.

[English]

Early intervention efforts have been successful at getting in front of some of those.

[Translation]

Senator Saint-Germain: Are you referring to the accountability of managers under your harassment prevention policy?

Mr. Paulson: Yes.

[English]

Senator Beyak: Thank you all for coming. Commissioner, many citizens watch this committee at home, I guess because of their interest in their personal safety and national security and defence. One thing that isn't well understood is terrorism financing because there are so many conflicting reports about it. I wanted to read the 2016 Annual Report from FINTRAC that notes:

Of FINTRAC’s total disclosures, 1,501 were associated to money laundering. An additional 483 cases were relevant to terrorism financing and threats to the security of Canada, an increase of more than 43 percent . . . .

Yet it's my understanding that as the RCMP is responsible for terrorism only one conviction for terrorism financing has happened since 2001. Could you explain what we're doing to assure Canadians that these next 483 cases will be fully investigated and given the full extent of the law?

Mr. Paulson: I looked at your previous deliberations, and I think I anticipated this question. Gilles Michaud and I have looked at our numbers and we're prepared to give you an answer.

I wanted to put an emphasis on the central role that FINTRAC is playing and to manage expectations around that before Gilles gives you the response. Those are 483 instances in their view of suspicious occurrences. From that we take those and look at those, and then Gilles will walk down what we do with those.

It sounds like an excuse, and I don't mean it to be one, but the absence of prosecutions arising does not reflect an abandonment of interest in those numbers. Gilles, maybe you could talk to that.

Mr. Michaud: When we receive those disclosures from FINTRAC we do an assessment because these are suspicious activities. We need to further analyze the suspicions behind these reports. From these 483 reports, there were 100 of them that we said we really need to look at more closely. Of the remaining suspicious activities that did meet any threshold for a criminal investigation, out of the 100 there were 43 we referred to our divisions for investigation.

How they fit into our current ongoing investigations is the other piece of the puzzle. Some of them may be linked to ongoing criminal investigations that are looking at threat-to-life files. Being terrorism financing, we have ongoing investigations around individuals that might be involved in those activities.

They would fall into a category where we're investigating these individuals on threat to life and, as you know, we will put emphasis on threat to life instead of the terrorism financing piece unless we determine that the best way to counter their activities is through a terrorism financing charge.

When I talk about 43 files it means some of them are probably still ongoing. Before we see an end result with charges being laid it takes more time. From suspicion we need to develop the evidence required to bring it before the courts.

Sometimes we may use them from a disruption perspective. It's not necessarily through a criminal charge, but we will approach these situations where these individuals are involved and address them in a different way.

I'll give you an example where we had a young individual in the province of Quebec in 2014 that basically committed an armed robbery to finance his travel to go overseas. At the end of the day we had a potential terrorism financing charge right there. At the end, though, he was charged under section 83 of the Criminal Code.

Mr. Paulson: Another good example would be the project in the VIA Rail plot. We had terrorist-related referrals and information on the VIA Rail plot. Those two individuals have been sentenced to life imprisonment. It would make no sense to bring terrorism-related financing charges against them, which is to say that we need to make sure we are attentive to terrorism financing but it's not quite as stark as those numbers might make you think.

Senator Boniface: I'm interested in your comments around the mental health strategy. As you know many agencies are undertaking this. I commend you for it. I am interested, because culture can eat policy every day, in how you will measure that in the long run so that you can learn how your progress is going.

Mr. Paulson: It is indeed a challenge to deploy this mental health action plan from our strategy. It is resource intensive and we need to invest in and develop business cases. While we have a strategy and we have the plan, I don't want to fool you that it's all perfect. We have some work to do.

Things like the number of complaints arising from workplace dissatisfaction, sick leave, and absences in the workplace are the garden variety indicators we might have. The pension cost for mental health pensions are going up and the PTSD applications are going up. Those numbers tell a clear story. Getting those to turn back toward normalcy would be a strong indicator.

This is a nascent strategy we have. We have been concentrating, as Dan would say, on the understanding of the mental health issue in the police community, which you know is a challenge.

I think we've succeeded. We've changed the approach. There's not a day that goes by when we have the commanding officer's report in across the country where I don't hear, “Here's what happened. There was a shootout.” I'd get all the evidence and everything, and it used to end there. Now it is: What are we doing for the member or members? Have they been debriefed? Are they being looked after? That cultural change is starting to take hold. It's a work in progress.

Senator Lankin: A couple years ago former RCMP officer Deanna Lennox published a book about her experience with PTSD and the struggle to be understood within the force. From reading that book I would say, if that's an accurate description of what took place, it was the treatment, the dismissiveness and the punitive actions of her that exacerbated a PTSD situation.

What has changed in the last two years since her book was published with respect to the training of management and the monitoring of management for their response to these concerns being brought forward?

Mr. Paulson: A number of things have changed such as mandatory training for all managers and so on but also in terms of the accountabilities. One of the pillars of our action plan is socializing the organization to the real effects of PTSD, of mental health injuries, and holding people to account for failing to properly manage stressful situations.

For example, as I was saying, the questions that come out of me and other COs when they get briefed on a particularly acute set of facts is: What are you doing about the employees? That is now beginning to permeate the force.

I feel very confident. In the last couple of years, in particular, there has been a real sea change. The numbers of discussions we're having both at the national and divisional levels on the very subject of mental health in the workplace are succeeding in doing that.

Senator McPhedran: As a new independent senator I am meeting you and your team for the first time. It has been a very interesting session.

I did note that initially they were all men, you and your colleagues, so it was very pleasant to see Assistant Commissioner Lafrance with you as well.

My question relates to the Conduct Authority Representative Directorate, which is mentioned with regard to the Explosives Training Unit incident. I would like to ask, first of all: What does CARD do? Then I would like to ask, similar to my colleagues who have been pressing for more information on monitoring, for clear information about methodology and how there can be helpful tracking and meaningful comparisons drawn.

Let me frame a question on the mandatory consultation with CARD regarding allegations of sexual misconduct. How does that work? How will you actually measure “improvements” that you referenced partly in answer to Senator Saint-Germain?

Mr. Paulson: Craig MacMillan, a professional responsibility officer, can walk you through that.

Craig MacMillan, Assistant Commissioner, Professional Responsibility Officer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: CARD, the Conduct Authority Representative Directorate, is comprised of regular RCMP members and lawyers as well as civilian lawyers. Their role was much broader before but now it is to present dismissal cases solely to a board. They also provide assistance.

To answer your question about the role on assistance, files related to sexual misconduct where there's mandatory consultation by the conduct authority in the field have increased by about 29 per cent. They will consult with the CARD shop so they will have access to legal counsel to help them with that.

Mr. Paulson: We've redefined sexual misconduct. In fact we just promulgated that a couple of weeks ago. It is a very broad understanding. It's not just to say sexual harassment or sexual assault even but how sexual misconduct should be understood in the force very broadly.

The purpose of that mandatory consultation is to make sure that those types of behaviours that feature sexual misconduct are bought up in the system and mandatorily reported to me personally, and that they seek consultation on conduct measures being sought and managed in those cases.

That was one of the failures in the CPC case. All those recommendations were very helpful at refining our approach to our conduct regime.

Senator McPhedran: Just to come back around one more time to the questions of monitoring and reporting, could you please say more about how you're actually going to measure “improvements” and how you're then going to report on those “improvements?”

Mr. Paulson: My colleague has a 200-slide deck that he provided me with this morning. It was year two of our data analysis on all of these measures that we've brought to bear.

It is very instructive on what's going on in the force. It is not exclusively on matters related to sexual misconduct because they are, I say, although very public not that big a problem in terms of the overall conduct regime of the force.

We have a very elaborate, mandatory computer reporting system that allows us to draw conclusions around who is doing what to whom and how often, and what the respective authorities are doing about it. As I say, the second-year data is being interpreted now. It's available. I would be happy to make sure that the committee is briefed on our findings there. It's very expansive, and I would do it an injustice to try to speak to it.

There are improvements in some areas. There are challenges in other areas.

Senator McPhedran: If I may, could I just ask that the methodology could be included with that, please?

Mr. Paulson: Indeed.

Senator Lankin: I have one question on a different area but just a request for filing of information.

I think, commissioner, one of the things we're looking for is trying to understand what you will see as success as this is rolled out. You're in the second year of data filing. Assistant Commissioner Lafrance is beginning work in phase one this year to bring in an engagement and workplace culture examination.

When you have the actual outcome measures you are seeking to achieve, along with the methodology, I would appreciate it if those could be filed with us and your ongoing approach to monitoring.

It's across a number of subjects. It's not just the sexual misconduct subject. It is on a range of these workplace issues. I would appreciate that and the GBA+ analysis, wherever you're at in terms of a baseline when you have that, so we can see that on an ongoing basis.

My question is with respect to your testimony earlier and your comments about your concerns of the trend in policing for escalating military-style tools. I have seen some pictures from U.S. municipalities of heavy armoured equipment, tanks and those sorts of things being bought surplus from the military and being deployed in policing activities.

It certainly is not something we would expect to see in a Canadian context. We still worry about what the colour of our police cars are and whether they are friendly or menacing in communities. To see a tank rolling down the street would be shocking.

You have a great concern about that, and I am wondering: Have there been incidents within the RCMP that you would say are troubling with respect to a demand for or even a movement for purchasing of military-style tools? Do you see any trends in either behaviour or the attitude of your frontline staff or their direct management toward this militarization of policing?

Mr. Paulson: I do. In my opening remarks I think I used the word “afraid” because I am afraid. There seems to be a tension between the necessary component of a police officer's available response, use of force, and all of the attendant issues and how that force is applied versus the preventive engagement with communities and individuals in circumstances to avoid using force.

Historically, one has been seen to be more aligned with policing than the other. Yet our mandate in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act has an equal responsibility for us to prevent crime and to enforce laws.

It is a continual tension. We need to develop within our frontline officers that problem-solving mentality, a more strategic view of what's at stake when they do use force, and how some of the issues like the carbine issue are very electric. Very emotive discussions go around the carbine and the use of our tanks. We have all that equipment. We have tanks. We have drones. We have machine guns. Are we going to be going after shoplifters with a carbine?

Our policies have been refined to think that through but the practice is what Canadians see. We need to be very mindful about how we present ourselves and how we engage with the public.

Senator Lankin: I have a follow-up to that. You also made reference to ongoing and perhaps expanded efforts in terms of community outreach.

I am familiar with the service and the importance they have over the last number of years put on community outreach, disruptive strategies, and a range of things that flow from that, certainly focused on youth radicalization in particular.

Could you give us a snapshot of what the parallel to that is in terms of the RCMP?

Mr. Paulson: In our contracting responsibility we have, as do many major police forces, all the major cities, and the other two provincial police forces, community access points and available lines into communities to both consult and engage with when things happen. We have that infrastructure, if I can call it that, in place.

In the national security context we rely on our partners in the major cities across the country and our own to deliver a host of initiatives. For example, post-attack in Quebec City last week we convened the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Counter Terrorism and National Security Committee. We talked about the need to reach out to all of our respective Muslim communities to make sure they had an appreciation of what the facts were in Quebec, what was happening there and what the risk was to them.

We were able to use existing infrastructures that not just the RCMP but the police in particular, our city partners and our provincial partners have. That is a great tool to be able to access community leaders in very important ways.

The Chair: Could you, commissioner, update us in a general sense in respect to the question of the terrorism threat in Canada. There are more and more Canadians who have been involved in terrorism coming back to Canada. Are you able to ascertain what those numbers are and perhaps tell us what we can expect in the future, please?

Mr. Paulson: I know my colleague in the service has been throwing numbers around. We have been trying to avoid throwing numbers around. That won't please you, but I am not going to do it.

We can say that the state of operations is steady. We have noted that we continue to redeploy resources into the CP world, to prioritize our cases and to work with our partners. I haven't seen any real diminution of activity, so we continue to be challenged to address the threats as they present themselves, although I think we have been very successful in doing that so far.

I know that there is a renewed interest in the non-classic terrorist case. Now we're talking about the offender that was present in Quebec. We have worked in partnership with police agencies on what I'll call the criminal extremists as evidenced by the crime in Quebec. We have files on those. That's a bit severe but I wouldn't say it's broadly the case across Canada. We are doubling down our efforts with our police partners to make sure we have a full sense of the picture there.

The Chair: Just as an observation, other countries on an ongoing basis publish numbers in respect to what is occurring in their countries and in their communities so people have a sense of the scope of the problem that you're facing and that we're all facing. I would say that there is another way of looking at it. It would be to the public's advantage to know that.

On the other side, what you call the criminal extremist side, are we seeing an increase in that area? We cannot express our sorrow enough for the unfortunate event in Quebec, but is there an increase in this particular type of activity as well, from your perspective?

Mr. Paulson: There's not an increase in that particular type of activity, but I think everyone would agree there is a more caustic tone to the political discourse that seems to attract, agitate and radicalize people of all persuasions to engage, particularly those who know hardly anything about it. That represents a concern for us. Everybody is concerned about that, including the service and other police forces. We are doing everything we can to get our heads around that.

As an example, Freeman on the Land out in the west, we have had numerous encounters with that kind of criminality and other instances. I wouldn't say it's overtaking the classic terrorism threat, but it's something we shouldn't lose sight of as we pursue these other threats.

The Chair: I don't think anybody is arguing that. What we were trying to ascertain is just exactly what is the scope of the threat. What is the magnitude? What are we facing? More importantly, from our point of view, do you have the resources to be able to deal with the day-to-day problems you have? Nobody on this committee, commissioner, wants your job. I can guarantee that.

I have a question for the public record on an ongoing issue about the vice admiral in the navy and whether or not he is under investigation. That individual has been on the front page. His professional credibility is obviously in question. Can you give us an update?

Mr. Paulson: I cannot give you an update. If you had questions relating to his duty status I think those are properly placed before the military.

The Chair: Colleagues, we have come to the end. Thank you, commissioner, for taking the time to appear before us. We are looking forward to your next visit and I am sure you are as well. I thank your staff for coming as well.

Colleagues, I would like to introduce our new panel. Joining us today, to give us an update from the perspective of RCMP members themselves, is Brian Sauvé, National Executive Co-Chair of the National Police Federation, and Peter Merrifield, National Executive Co-Chair of the National Police Federation.

Welcome back to the committee, Mr. Sauvé and Mr. Merrifield. We appreciate your being here to give us an update on the issues related to RCMP members. I understand you have an opening statement.

Brian Sauvé, National Executive Co-Chair, National Police Federation: Good afternoon, Mr. Chair, committee members and guests. My name is Brian Sauvé. I'm a regular member of the RCMP, presently on leave without pay in my role as a co-chair of the National Police Federation. It has been my honour to serve Canadians as a member of the RCMP and continues to be such an honour.

Mr. Peter Merrifield, also a co-chair of the National Police Federation, is here with me and we will both be able to take your questions.

We formed the NPF, National Police Federation, last spring to seek to become the certified bargaining agent for members, reservists and special constables of the RCMP. We are nearing 4,000 regular members, reservists and special constables who have joined the NPF. For those of you who don't know the numbers, that is almost one in four across Canada and internationally who have joined us.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today on behalf of those members.

The invite from the clerk suggested to us a general discussion about the temperature of frontline members and what those members of the RCMP see as frustrations in their day-to-day duties. We are more than willing to discuss what we have seen as we have travelled through almost every province and territory in the past year and held almost 60 town hall information sessions in those cities and towns. We also did an online survey late last fall in which almost 1,500 members of the RCMP responded to identify key issues and concerns.

We can most certainly say that the evolving labour relations framework in the RCMP is a frustration. However, members of the RCMP have expressed to us that pay, resource levels, transfers and relocations, benefits and pension, to name a few, are top of mind for our membership.

This should be no surprise. As you heard from the previous witnesses, compared to 80 police forces with over 50 police officers the RCMP are presently ranked 72 out of those 80 as recently as December 2016. In other words, 71 other local police forces are better paid than our national police force. This is shameful.

Aside from pay, resource levels are the number one concern our membership have expressed to us. Without representation or collective representation, there is no resolution in sight.

In our travels to many detachment areas one thing to us is clear: The RCMP does not have the human resources to provide the level of service it has committed to providing municipalities, provinces and the people of Canada. This is frustrating for all members as we are a committed group who joined the RCMP to serve the people of Canada.

The commitment and dedication of our membership is also the vulnerability of that same membership. Our commitment leads our members to accept excessive overtime and the consequent reduction in a healthy work life balance and ultimately burnout.

Add in the fact that a member of the RCMP can walk over to any large police service and be paid close to or in excess of $20,000 per year more, with fewer or no mobility requirements and retention/recruiting becomes a serious problem with no end in sight.

The NPF is very close to being in a position to apply for certification on behalf of members of the RCMP. We intend to be open and constructive and to negotiate with the RCMP and Treasury Board to find equitable solutions to these problems for the benefit of all members. This would ultimately allow the membership of the RCMP to provide years of exceptional service to Canadians and live up to the iconic expectations and reputation that come with wearing the red serge.

Your work here is very important to our membership, and we welcome any questions you may have.

Senator Kenny: My first question would be to ask you if you have any comments that you would like to make on the testimony you've heard for the last hour and a half.

Mr. Sauvé: Where shall we begin? Shall we go all the way to the mental health strategy, or shall we start with resource levels and 4 to 6 per cent vacancy rates?

Senator Kenny: Start soon because we're running out of time.

Mr. Sauvé: Before my experience in the RCMP I was in private industry, as was my co-chair here. We both joined the force in our 30s. We had careers before. Mine was in corporate banking and his was in more sales and industry-led.

I am a numbers guy, basically. We have 17,600 members of the RCMP. Approximately a thousand of them could be on family-related leave, paternal or maternal, and a thousand of them could be off sick in any capacity, whether it be long term or short term. Then we have those who are dealing with annual training, whether it is a two-week course, a one-day course or a week-long course. We also have to deal with those 450 funded but unoccupied vacancies because we don't have the bodies, to start with, to put those in place. Right there, 2,500 and possibly 3,000 members are not showing up or not available to show up any given day for work and the 17,600-member force is cut down to 14,600.

Can we get the job done when we are 15 to 16 per cent short on bodies daily? The answer earlier today was: “Yes, we can. We're only 4 to 6 per cent nationally.” The reality is the majority of our members serve in small communities with three, four, six, or ten-member detachments. If one member breaks a leg in a four-member detachment that is a 25 per cent vacancy rate.

When you start talking about creating deployment teams that are going to fly in to supplement the resources, where are those bodies coming from in the first place? What job are they giving up? What crime are we not going to investigate so that Lac La Biche can have someone come in to replace someone who broke a leg? That's the challenge we face.

It's nice for me to say that we are in a resource crunch. That is identifying a problem but it is not telling you what the solution is. The solution is to have hard discussions about the mandate we have provided to entertain.

Do we talk about the service levels we are willing to provide provincially, municipally and federally? Do we talk about how we perhaps cut back on those service levels? Do we have to be honest with our contracting partners and say that in Cranbrook, British Columbia, we're going to need 24 per cent more bodies, for example, to continue to provide the service level, or perhaps we will have to stop writing traffic tickets?

The Chair: Mr. Merrifield, do you have any comments to make on that?

Peter Merrifield, National Executive Co-Chair, National Police Federation: I think you have some very insightful members on the committee. Senator Boniface once led the second largest and my second-favourite police force in the country. Senator White once proudly wore the red wool and then led a couple of other agencies. Others of you have some law enforcement background.

It's great to have senior management of the organization come in. With no disrespect to any who have held the spot in senior management, there's a saying I like to use: The least amount of fog is closest to the ground. When we talk to the constables, the corporals and the sergeants out doing the job, we see things a little differently.

These human resource crises are real and they are huge. We have members that have enormous leave banks because they can't take their annual leave. They are burning out and suffering from PTSD because there aren't people to replace them. We're going into communities as the dollar store of policing. We are the lowest bidder. There is no competition. Then when they sign the contract, the federal government gives them anywhere from a 10 to a 30 per cent discount on top of us being the lowest price. There is no room for improvement in this mechanism between the government, the RCMP and its contract partners.

 I challenge your Senate colleagues and members of the House to find another federal department that is 72nd out of 80 in its pay universe. I dare say you will not find one.

You're asking young men and women, and old men and women like me with creaky knees, to serve Canadians and make them safe. We do it proudly. I've seen members of the RCMP, not unlike other Canadian police officers, make tremendous sacrifices. We are burning them out. We cannot continue at this pace.

Does it mean we withdraw from certain municipal contracts and other contracts so that we can stave off the human resource crisis where we just don't have the bodies to fill? These are options that we have to look at.

First and foremost, we have to start being an attractive employer to new recruits.

Second, we have to stave off the mid-career retention issue that we're facing where they are leaving either for other careers because they are millennials and they can walk away from policing scot-free, or they go to other police agencies simply because they are better remunerated and better treated and have less issues and concerns over mobility.

Then we have to look at the back end. We have a crisis in the RCMP where it was an assumption in our human resource management that members would work a minimum of 30 years. That is not the case. The average discharge now is around 25 years of service, so we also have a retention crisis at the back end where we're losing corporate knowledge and ability.

We might have to look at something outside the box, as the military did, where we look at retention and bonuses to keep people beyond certain years and where we look at their specific skill sets and create bonuses. We really have to break the mould, ladies and gentlemen, because to continue doing things the way we have always done them for the last 150 years of the RCMP, we can then only expect to get the same result, and the result right now is not very good.

Senator Kenny: Could you please explain to the committee why the RCMP should have more pay? What circumstances are different about the RCMP that would make more pay reasonable? At the same time, if I can just tack it on, could you explain to us why you think we got into the pay situation we're in now, where the RCMP lags behind so badly?

Mr. Sauvé: Essentially, 2008-2009 was the start of an effective pay freeze through the Expenditure Restraint Act. We have been without a pay package since January 1, 2015, so I would argue that we have effectively been in seven years or going on eight years of a pay freeze.

As far as getting more money, why should our members be paid more? I would also table the notion that we are the most complex police force in the world. We do it all. Whether we talk about anti-terrorism, international deployments, federal investigations, sensitive investigations, contract and non-contract, municipal, provincial, traffic, general duty, major crimes or homicide, we do it all. I do not think there is a police force in the world that does what the RCMP does. In order to maintain and improve the reputation of the RCMP as one of the best police forces in the world, its employees should be commensurately compensated according to comparative police forces.

We could only compare ourselves in Canada to the OPP, the Toronto Police Service or the Vancouver Police Service. Those are our comparative universes. Do we bring in the FBI as a national-federal and compare ourselves to them as well? I don't think so. I think we want to stay within Canada. I could walk out the door tomorrow as a sergeant in the RCMP and make more money as a constable in the OPP, and that is wrong.

Senator Kenny: I was expecting you to talk a bit about geography.

Mr. Sauvé: We could talk about that too.

Senator Kenny: Should there be a bonus for families that are uprooted when the member in their family gets a transfer and is required to work elsewhere?

Mr. Sauvé: That brings in some more complications. I was trying to be as simplistic as I could, but we can delve more into the weeds.

When a member leaves Depot, they can be posted to their province of choice if they were recruited out of Manitoba west, but my understanding is that the majority of our applicants come from Ontario so they are deployed across Canada.

We will have junior members going to Fond du Lac, Saskatchewan, and have never been there before. The junior members that we recruit could be married or single. In their first five to ten years, they may find their soulmates and get married.

Another uprooting may happen where they are going to Surrey, British Columbia, coming down to Regina or going to Calgary. That usually means that their partners will have to leave their jobs and move with them.

Do you have stability in the family income where your partner as a nurse or an educator has to leave their job and start over in another province or another community? That impacts your total compensation as a family unit over your entire career.

Peter can speak to his experience going from F Division to O Division. I haven't move. The Lower Mainland wouldn't let me go, so I haven't been able to get out of there. Yes, sacrifices to the family unit, sacrifices to education and sacrifices now since without representation our members have lost some of their medical benefits with respect to isolated posts.

It used to be if there was an issue with respect to urgent medical care, the force would fly you out and take care of you. Now they've cost-cut it and said, “That's going to be one of your vacation trips,” and off you go. Again that is a pushback.

A lot of sacrifices are made, and I don't discount them. Having been up to Yellowknife and Whitehorse and trying to get up to Inuvik, it has been an education for me to see the challenges faced by our membership, even with respect to travel in those places to get from one community to a Costco in the next community, for example.

Senator Kenny: Are there issues with kids?

Mr. Sauvé: There are huge issues with kids. Earlier today the commissioner was talking about increasing supplemental benefits. That's fantastic if you're in a major centre, but try to find an acupuncturist, a chiropractor or a registered massage therapist in Twin Oaks, Manitoba; Gods Lake Narrows, Manitoba; or Old Crow, Yukon. You may have those benefits and they may be worth some part of your total compensation, which is what the deputy was speaking to, but you really can't use them unless you're using them on one of your vacations. Now you're taking up your vacation time to take advantage of some of your compensation.

What is it? Am I using my annual leave or am I taking care of my health?

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: Thank you Mr. Sauvé and Mr. Merrifield. You mentioned the fact that some senators used to be police officers. I, myself, spent 39 years with the Sûreté du Québec. I was the president of the union. Fortunately, our association was in a position to negotiate with the employer, and we were able to obtain benefits and decent wages as a result.

I do, however, fully appreciate the situation because the government of Quebec cut down on hiring for a period of seven years, so we ended up with two patrols in a small detachment that covered an area made up of 12 municipalities.

Not only is the safety of police officers at stake, but so too, is the safety of the public. When there aren’t enough officers to cover an area, people have to wait for help to arrive, and sometimes those people are in distress. The government has a duty to ensure the safety of citizens.

According to reports, the RCMP is short at least a thousand police officers. Given your experience, could you tell us what changes management should introduce to make it easier to recruit police officers and attract more applicants? I can imagine what your answer will be; you will no doubt have some very commendable recommendations, but I would like to hear what you have to say on the subject.

I have a question about trained officers who become disillusioned with the RCMP and leave the force for other police departments. Many of them have joined the Sûreté du Québec, in fact. Is it a significant phenomenon? The employer needs to remember that training a police officer in Regina isn’t cheap and that other police departments are quite happy to scoop up officers who are already trained.

I would like to hear where you stand on the subject. I am also curious as to whether the departure of RCMP officers is an issue that has been receiving a lot of attention since you came on the job.

[English]

The Chair: Perhaps I could just interject here. I would ask everyone to be more concise in their questions and answers because we don't have a lot of time.

Mr. Merrifield: To a degree you've taken our thunder. At the end of the day this isn't about our making a plea for a raise for members of the RCMP. This is really about public safety. You've hit the nail exactly on the head.

We got emails from our members in 12 zones less than four or five days ago. Twelve officers should have reported for duty and only five came. This is unacceptable. First, the police officers responding to emergencies were put at risk but more importantly the public did not get the response levels they deserved.

I have used the example of a place like Surrey. If five officers show up I am missing two or three zones of coverage. If an officer goes on a 10-33, which is an emergency call for service, you drop everything you are doing and get there as quickly as you can with lights and sirens. Now the officer is at risk, travelling at high rates of speed. You have to worry about intersections with the public going about their business on a routine day. You have pedestrians. You have the people who are calling for the service and the officer that has to go into a dangerous situation alone. None of this is good for Canadians.

Your question was about what we would like to see and what is the short-term fix. To go back a bit to the other senator's question about why the pay raise, we need to attract the best people. I can't run an anti-corruption unit without the right skill set. I can't run a cybercrime unit without the properly trained people. Unless the RCMP becomes a preferred employer for skilled applicants, I can't just train them at Depot. I need people with the right degree. I need people with the right background. I need to be a preferred employer.

Being 72nd in the pay universe, having to deal with issues of mobility, and being told you will likely go to one of the western provinces and spend 10 or 15 years in uniform right now, it's hard for me to go to Silicon Valley to attract someone who is a code writer to work in the technology unit. They're not interested in going to a remote jurisdiction to do general duty policing.

 I have to look at my mission-specific human resources needs. I haven't seen that out of the senior management of the RCMP. I am not indicting them. I just simply haven't seen it. If they're prepared to come to you and show they have a skill set specific human resource recruitment plan, I welcome it. In the absence of it I don't believe it exists.

Senator White: In 2003, the federal government of Canada put in place Public Safety Canada. It was anticipated that it would come out with a number of things particularly around police standards, standards of service, maybe minimum competency levels and maybe response time service.

With 198 police agencies in this country today and the fact that the RCMP, although the largest, are often the smallest in 780 or 800 of those communities, is it not time that the federal government grew up into what was expected of the public safety department in 2003 and actually set some standards and identify that there should not be one-person detachments. Often the RCMP has one person with support staff a 45-minute flight or drive away? Isn't that really what we're talking about?

We could talk about the pay issue all day. We know you are seven years behind and tens of thousands of dollars per officer behind. We are talking about standards, and we don't have standards in the country. I could hire Senator Lang tomorrow in Yukon as a police officer, but I would not be able to hire him in Ontario because we haven't set national standards.

Mr. Sauvé: We can only speak from an RCMP-specific standpoint. I agree that, yes, it would be time for at least us to set some standards, as long as those standards include some good police resource methodology.

What does a community like Chilliwack, British Columbia, require for its population? What does a community like Kelowna or Airdrie or Fort Saskatchewan require for policing? What would that standard look like? One of the reasons it hasn't happened is because we would have to probably grow in size by 25 per cent.

Senator White: Looking at Surrey and Vancouver as a comparison, what's the difference in manpower, pop-to-cop ratio or number of officers per 100,000? What is the difference?

Mr. Sauvé: The easiest example is Surrey is a growing community. It is one of the fastest growing in Canada, with the population closing in on 700,000. I live in Vancouver, with a population of 750,000. The authorized strength of Vancouver PD is closing in on 1,400 gun-toting police officers and the authorized strength in Surrey, B.C. is about 750.

Senator Lankin: At one point in time in my background I came out of being a union negotiator in a public sector union. I came into that union out of Corrections. I have some sense of a lot of the things you have talked about, and I am empathetic to them.

In dealing with the issue of workplace sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, we recognized as a union that we had to do our own education of our members and set in place a member-to-member harassment policy. Not only our union but many unions have moved down that road.

Can you tell me what your federation has done specifically around the very major problem within the force in terms of workplace culture and responsibility complementary to management's clear responsibility? What steps have you taken to take action on it?

Mr. Merrifield: We're not certified and that's the problem. From a policy preparation perspective we have adopted as a governance principle and model that there will not be, nor will there ever be, an acceptance or that old school union philosophy of hiding the bad apple.

Our greatest concern right now is the culture change in what we are told today in training by senior RCMP management. Three of the four mandatory courses are referenced online. We log on and put check in the box. Then we can come here and testify to you that we are compliant.

Several of those courses, including sexual misbehaviour, are online click on and click-off check boxes. Changing a culture takes a lot more than that. It has to be instituted at day one from training. If we're not instituting this as part of the curriculum at Depot and setting high conduct standards with our officers then we're failing them.

We have to break the cycle in policing that policing is a job for life. If you're not cut out for policing, if are not morally and ethically the right person, you are fired. In the private sector I fired people. If they could not do the job, I got rid of them. In policing, in the RCMP in particular, it appears in many cases we just transfer them or sometimes promote them. It is horrible. That's the problem.

Whether it's bullying or sexual misconduct that takes place in the workplace, in the corporate sector you're not immune from it as a president or an EVP. I personally know of someone who was making $14 million a year as a CEO and sexual misconduct cost them their job.

The Chair: I don't think you've answered her question as to whether or not you have your own policy.

Senator Lankin: Certified or not, you're a federation. You have a membership. You have meetings, conventions and activities. You'll be getting to that point. If you haven't done this, I recommend that you be part of the solution. You as a proposed bargaining agent need to have policies and procedures in place to deal with complaints about member-to-member harassment when they come forward in the context of union activities. I'll leave it at that.

The Chair: Was that an agreement?

Mr. Merrifield: Yes, it is. We're 10 months in and struggling on the membership drive side.

Senator Jaffer: I will follow up with what Senator Lankin was talking about, culture. I hear a lot from members of the RCMP is that the culture, especially at the top, is not a well-being culture. It's a power relationship culture. Rules are set and members and non-civilian members have to follow them, but they don't apply to managers. What has your experience been?

Mr. Merrifield: Pretty much your comment, senator. The perception I share with most members is that there is a state of hypocrisy. Not by all; I've met fantastic leaders in our organization but I've also met horrible people that should have been discharged.

At the end of the day we have a culture of right and privilege rather than a sense of responsibility and leadership. That is where things go wrong.

Senator Meredith: On the same question as that of Senator Jaffer on the desire to change. We heard from Commissioner Paulson his view on the organization. It's challenging, complex and underfunded.

What recommendations have you made as a federation to the RCMP? How receptive have they been about recommendations obviously coming from the members?

We're all concerned about the safety of officers who are deployed and are dealing with family and emotional stresses. You've come together as a federation to address these issues. How receptive are they? Has anything been implemented in your 10 months? Have you seen a shift or is it still ground zero?

Mr. Merrifield: They don't speak to us. That is the short answer based on time. They haven't accepted any recommendations. They have never sat at the table. There's no collective representation currently for any members of the RCMP to senior management of the RCMP.

We have to understand that with the demise of the last internal system there is no collective voice. Members have no access to officer safety issues. I used to sit on the RCMP National Health and Safety Policy Committee  in relation to the Canada Labour Code, as did Mr. Sauvé. That ceased when the past program was done. They're just sitting and waiting for someone to certify as a bargaining agent.

Bill C-4 and Bill C-7 are terribly important to the RCMP. Legislatively, we need to move forward quickly, ladies and gentlemen, because right now we have zero shield or protection.

Senator Meredith: Can you elaborate for us on that?

Mr. Merrifield: Bill C-4 will help members of the RCMP reach an attainable goal in order to certify. It changes the threshold for application of certification as a bargaining agent, which is important for us.

Bill C-7 was an abomination. It was a management-driven bill. It was a takeaway bill. It was a Trojan horse full of things that hurt members of the RCMP. It took away our veterans affairs, changed our medical benefits, and tried to dislodge a national standard of health care for members of the RCMP and download them on to provincial workers compensation. It was horrible. Thank God for the Senate and the work you did to alter that bill, to get rid of the exclusions that existed in that bill, and to give something to the men and women of the RCMP in the field that helped protect them.

It has been two years since the MPAO decision and, as I said, probably 17 months since the Supreme Court deadline. I'd love to sit down with the minister, the Department of Justice and Public Safety, whip up a Royal Canadian Mounted Police labour relations act with employee content, separate ourselves from the public service, the PSLRA and the PSLRB, and get to the business of protecting Canadians.

Senator Beyak: In 2013, this committee recommended unanimously the creation of a position of ombudsman within the RCMP to look at the concerns of members. Would you support something like that? Do you think it would be helpful?

Mr. Merrifield: Yes, we would. In fact we would almost encourage you to look forward to an inspector general's role, someone who has a bit of power. They would not be able to interfere in the operations of policing services, but they would be able to have equal power with the commissioner of the RCMP when it comes to administrative and non-operational issues. An ombudsman would be great; an inspector general would be better.

Senator McPhedran: How many women in your organization are involved in the executive?

Mr. Sauvé: We have been as reflective as we can be about the diversity of the RCMP. In our constitution our board holds up to 13 people. It's presently occupied by 10. Two of those are women: one in Alberta, one in Newfoundland. We're constantly looking for more members who are willing to stand up. However, a 144-year-old RCMP is very paramilitary and every supervisor has an impact on your career. It has been difficult to find people who are willing to put forward a face, a name and a biography to advocate for that cause. Hopefully, in the next month or so, that will change.

Senator Boniface: I assure you that the fog has cleared. It has been a while. I wanted to talk about your plan going forward if you were the bargaining unit. Obviously you had the division rep system at one point and you have a gap now. What would be your plan going forward in terms of how you would start to approach this issue? There are lots of other police associations you could look to.

Mr. Sauvé: We have. We're not acting in isolation. To give you an idea, there are names that you might be familiar with, like Dale Kinnear and Peter Ratcliff, who are assisting us on a pro bono basis as advisers. We realize that this is uncharted territory for us and for members of the RCMP. We also realize there will be some growing pains. We're going to have a few years of saying we didn't realize that, we have to learn that, and we have to go forward.

In an overarching strategy we would have to say that since January 1, 2015, to now we have not seen a pay package. Let's deal with that first. Let's figure out how we will have something commensurate with the police universe. Then going forward, we could talk about everything else.

It might take longer to negotiate the hundreds and thousands of pages of policies and procedures, isolated post benefits and the relocation policy which just changed this morning.

Starting off we need to deal with pay, which will help to morph into recruiting and transition. Are we going to start to actively recruit OPP members to lateral over? Perhaps we’ll do that sort of thing if we're to be more attractive.

Senator Boniface: I have more of a statement now than a question. I was looking more in terms of how you establish the relationship, because it's the relationship that will in part help you get to where you want to go. I leave it at that.

Mr. Sauvé: I am sure the commissioner is watching. I called him “Bob” the last time I was here, so I'll say commissioner today because I want to rebuild that relationship, shall we say. I would hope it would be member speaking to member, whether it is Deputy Dubeau, MacMillan, or Ms. Lafrance. We're all in it for the benefit of the membership at large.

I don't want to see a mentality of us versus them. It's not on the colour of our shirt. We were all constables at one point in time. We all went to Depot. We all share that passion. We all go to funerals. It doesn't matter what stripe is on the pants. It's all about the membership and within their authority what they can do to improve the lives of the membership. If it's not within their authority then it's up to us with our certificate to work down with those in Treasury Board and Treasury Board Secretariat and force their hand to make life better in the RCMP.

The Chair: We're very pleased that you've taken the time to come. As you know, we're very concerned about the health of the members of the RCMP. What you've provided has given us an insight, so I thank you for appearing.

Colleagues, joining us in panel three to give us an update, from the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, Mr. Lee Keane, Member of the Board of Directors, and Louis-Philippe Theriault, Officer.

Welcome, gentlemen. I understand you have an opening statement.

Lee Keane, Member of the Board of Directors, Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada: My name is Lee Keane. I've been involved in the association movement for about 22 years and I've been in law enforcement for 30 years. I'm currently on the board of directors of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada. Thank you for asking me to give testimony today.

We're talking about the morale of the RCMP, specifically within the non-commissioned ranks. It has reached crisis levels largely because of accountability at the managerial hierarchy level. There's an excessive reliance on the code of conduct process. There's an absence of impartial, effective and timely recourse procedures. Generally there's a fear of retaliation and retribution among non-commissioned members. That translates into a lack of support by immediate and senior managers. It's a nationwide campaign to systemically discharge members — and right now there is one — disabled in the line of duty. This is combined with chronic understaffing, lack of transparency in the promotion process, and a desperate lack of human and material resources.

Enhancing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act was started purportedly to modernize the RCMP Act. It granted the RCMP commissioner sweeping new powers intended to modernize the discipline, grievance and human resource management process for members, with a view to preventing, addressing and correcting performance and conduct issues in a timely manner.

This was during a period of time when 500 female sexual harassment complaints were outstanding against various alleged transgressors. The RCMP's immediate and senior managers negligently failed to address and resolve these in a timely manner or at all. A large number of these sexual harassment complaints joined a class action suit, as we all know, and not a single one of the alleged transgressors will be held accountable for his or her actions. Neither the RCMP commissioner nor any of the RCMP managers who failed to take timely, corrective action will be held accountable for his or her action while they received sustainable executive performance bonuses.

The organization that fails to hold these people accountable and the people that made those decisions accountable has a direct effect on morale. Since no one is responsible the blight on the RCMP and its culture is significant. Essentially this will not be changing any time soon in the non-commissioned ranks.

I have knowledge of a recent situation where a member provided a medical certificate stating that he was unfit for duty to his immediate supervisor. He was absent for two shifts when an inspector, accompanied by a sergeant, attended his private residence and demanded to know whether the member was mentally ill and under the care of a psychiatrist. The inspector demanded to know whether the member was mentally ill because he did not appear so to the inspector, who is not a qualified health care professional.

The member explained that he provided the medical certificate as is his obligation. The inspector threatened to order the member to return to work under the threat of a code of conduct investigation for failing to obey that order, despite the presence of a medical certificate.

This was followed by my involvement and the involvement of other people. I went to the professional standards unit and informed them of that, as is my obligation when somebody transgresses the code of conduct. It was simply held as a performance issue with one of the managers. There was an apology but nobody took any action.

We've since found out that this member is being retaliated against in numerous ways, and I have since learned of another person who faced this same circumstance by the same inspector in the mounted police. I can't generalize but this sort of stuff goes on. I know of two cases by the same commissioned officer.

There is excessive use of the code of conduct process. It's used to address a lot of different things. It's basically an abusive process to initiate a code of conduct investigation for things that really should be training or performance issues.

In a recent case in “E” Division two inspectors told a staff sergeant that due to some work performance concerns, which they refused to disclose, he was being relieved of his command and reassigned as a one-man task to work a 30-year-old cold file. Initially the inspector, who was primarily responsible for supervising a staff sergeant, told him he would provide him with further information in writing to identify the perceived work performance deficiencies. He refused to do so and four months later the staff sergeant had a discussion with a colleague as he hoped to learn what concerns had led to his being relieved of his command.

As a result, he was suspended from duty and subjected to a code of conduct proceeding and the imposition of a conduct measure for attempting to find out what alleged performance deficiencies had led to his being relieved of his command. To date the grievance and appeal process has failed the staff sergeant.

We're looking at an absence of an impartial, effective and timely recourse procedure, which is one of our big issues right now. As I said, a big problem within the non-commissioned ranks is fear of retaliation and retribution. Also we have a promotion system that is not performance based. It's merely based on a resumé and a test, which is unusual in any world.

I will let my colleague speak to some other issues.

[Translation]

Louis-Philippe Thériault, Officer, Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada: I will be brief. The personnel shortage is just one element tied to the inadequate resources at the RCMP. One of the eight recommendations made by Assistant Chief Judge Daniel Pahl, under Alberta’s Fatality Inquiries Act, in the wake of the 2005 murder of four RCMP members near Mayerthorpe, was to equip RCMP detachments with patrol carbines.

On October 21, 2011, Commissioner Elliott announced that RCMP members would have access to such weapons. Unfortunately, as we saw on June 4, 2014, the RCMP had still not equipped all of its detachments with these carbines, contributing to the murder of three other RCMP officers. To this day, the RCMP Commissioner has still not taken the necessary steps to equip all detachments with the carbines promised by his predecessor.

As a result, the RCMP was accused of violating the Canada Labour Code by failing to take adequate steps to ensure the health and safety of its members and provide them with appropriate training.

[English]

Senator Jaffer: Your first paragraph is what I hear about a lot, especially crisis levels due to the appearance of lack of accountability within the managerial positions and managers saying they don't have to follow the rules that have been set up. However, the real questions since the summer have been on Bill C-7.

We are waiting and waiting and I can imagine it is 100 times worse for you. What is morale like?

Mr. Keane: To be fair and honest it's abysmal. I am asked the same question. I am more in a training capacity now. I left the road about two years ago but most of my career has been in uniform frontline policing. In fact I worked the same streets as the commissioner and the professional responsibility officer. I know both of them quite well.

Morale is exactly that. Most probationary members are afraid to speak their mind, afraid to even talk to me, because they want to pass their probation.

Senator Jaffer: Just as a follow-up, I have heard that he has been told by the non-commissioned person in your position to just go along with it because there's not much at this point even you can do to represent them.

Mr. Keane: All we can do is try. We're not certified but there are certain things we can do. Getting people to consult us is new to me. It's nice to be consulted. We don't have any consultation with the end user.

Our association provides an unlimited legal insurance plan for members who require it. My background is HR. I got bored and went back to school to get a specialty in HR as part of my graduate degree. I can help people with concepts including management. Basically I work collaboratively with them. I have done that a number of times to help both management and the frontline.

Senator Lankin: I appreciate your appearance here today. Hopefully a number of the things you were speaking about will move to a different place once Bill C-7 is resolved for us, and depending on what that resolution is. We as a Senate have already grappled with a lot of things and have taken a position on.

I also recognize that your efforts and the efforts of the previous panel that appeared here are focused on organizing and signing up members. That is where your primary activities lay.

In response to our questions to the commissioner he was very strong in his assertion that he is trying to lead a change of culture and that's a big job in an organization like this one.

Mr. Keane: It is a huge task.

Senator Lankin: We understand that. It's not going to happen overnight. You talked about an ongoing state of fear of retaliation and retribution, which is clearly reflected in the concern of some people not being seen to be signing up, active or engaged in the union. It is also with respect to the health, placement in positions and transfers of people. I made reference earlier to a book by Deanna Lennox which was exactly about retaliation and retribution in a PTSD situation.

Is anything the commissioner is committing himself to in terms of attempting to lead change starting to filter down? He talked about when an incident happens that they are focused on asking: What are you doing for the employee? What supports are being put in place?

Do you see that? Do you feel that? If you don't, are you raising these cases even though you're not certified to the attention of the people who were here accompanying him and to him himself?

Mr. Keane: To answer your question they are filtering down, but a case in point is that I just received the training on peer-to-peer support. I do it anyway. It was nice to know the faces in the room. I have a relationship with most of those people.

A key problem with the RCMP, and I generalize, is a lack of willingness to fund things. Let's say the local detachment has a use-of-force incident, a dead child incident, one of those critical instances that we go to daily and that can affect us. A peer-to-peer will set up a briefing with a psychologist.

Members are encouraged to come to that course. They are merely encouraged to come to it. They are not required to come to it because nobody will pay them to come to it. They are expected to come to it on their own time. There is no funding for something like peer-to-peer. If I coordinate it I do it out of my own pocket.

It's short-sighted but there's no consultation. It’s just, “Here’s your program”. They don't talk to the user. Who did they consult with? It wasn't us on the ground floor.

Senator Lankin: We have heard about the salary problems and other things that seem to be appropriations from the government. Presumably the RCMP does not have the funds to do this and it's patchwork.

Mr. Keane: I am not an MBA. I took an MA in management because math scares me. They have funding for a lot of things. I'm not in charge. Commissioner Paulson is and I don't pretend to tell him how to do his job because he would never pretend to tell me how to do mine. If you're making executive bonuses, let's say 10 or 20 per cent of your annual salary, there absolutely is funding.

Senator McPhedran: You referenced 500 female sexual harassment complaints, and then you said that not a single transgressor will be held accountable and some have been promoted.

Mr. Keane: Yes.

Senator McPhedran: Could you share with us on behalf of your association what should be happening instead?

Mr. Keane: Getting back to the code of conduct and the misuse of it, if you commit an offence you took an oath and therefore you're held accountable.

The code of conduct is used now merely to punish people for what used to be used for training them. On the case in point, the inspector I spoke of who goes to people's houses and intimidates his way in the door and bullies members was not held accountable. It wasn't really a performance issue and there was an apology.

Senator McPhedran: I am wondering if you could address my question was about the 500 female sexual harassment complaints.

Mr. Keane: They should be subject to a code of conduct and criminal charges, and we are not aware of anybody that has been.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: I would like to thank our witnesses. Mr. Thériault, when we spoke before the committee meeting began, you mentioned that you used to be an RCMP officer in Moncton and that you worked on patrol. Is that correct?

Mr. Thériault: Yes.

Senator Dagenais: Having been a patrol officer, myself, I know that patrol officers are, to some extent, overlooked by the organization. In a heated push to combat terrorism, funding and equipment will, of course, flow. It is not as easy, however, for RCMP officers to obtain equipment on a routine basis.

You were an officer in Moncton. You mentioned the murder of the officers in Mayerthorpe, and, unfortunately, three officers were also killed in Moncton. You brought up the lack of patrol carbines. Is there other equipment that would help you do your job, if only more patrol vehicles? Tell us about the lack of equipment and resources.

Mr. Thériault: I should point out that we are now well-equipped in Moncton. Unfortunately, the RCMP tends to be more reactive than proactive. The rollout of carbines had begun in 2014 when the incident occurred. We are talking about a lack of equipment, but outdated equipment is also a problem. Despite being long-overdue, radio system improvements were made only recently. We would be two or three miles away from the police station and have to communicate using our cell phones because of how difficult it was to use the radio. Clearly, that isn’t the best solution.

When we talk about equipment, we are talking about weapons and conducted energy weapons. We are better-equipped now. Equipment rollout and training have been very slow. Freeing up officers to train them on new equipment is often a rather complicated affair: we are short-staffed on the ground, but we need to train officers. When we don’t have enough patrols, we put people at risk, including RCMP officers. When we don’t have enough office staff in a federal unit, no one is at risk. When 10 or 12 officers are normally needed to cover a shift and that number is cut by a third or half, responding to calls involving violent situations means taking a risk.

Unfortunately, we are receiving more and more calls requiring us to respond in situations where people have firearms. In those cases, all officers have to be in the perimeter to respond to the call. That means they cannot respond to other calls, which have to wait until the situation is resolved.

[English]

Senator White: My question will be surrounding the words “militarization of policing” in particular and specifically relating to some of the things that came out of the 2005 shooting in Alberta. Whether ballistic vests, light armoured vehicles or C7 or CB carbines I keep hearing it thrown out as if the police don't deserve to have the tools necessary to save their lives and protect the public. We heard it here again today.

Most police agencies across the country have carbines. Every police service in Ontario has them but nobody sees them. It's not like they are running around the streets carrying them except on October 22 when we had an attack on the Hill.

I wanted to give you a chance to talk about the terminology “militarization of policing” versus appropriate access to the tools you need to do your job.

Mr. Theriault: I hear that term a lot. I'll give an example: If they see a black rifle they say it's a military rifle. If it's brown, they say it's a hunting rifle. People don't see the difference.

We have to adapt our technology and equipment to the challenges that we face. We know that the criminals have access to more and more equipment through the black market and underground market, but we have to be equipped to respond to those threats and protect our members. If we can't protect our members, we can't protect the public.

Mr. Keane: In business school I learned about SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and trends. As a use-of-force instructor since 1994 I have never seen a holistic examination on use-of-force policies from the RCMP. It all operates in silos.

That's something that definitely needs to be dealt with. With the collective agreement we would sit on that committee and do exactly that.

Senator White: We're not suggesting that the police look like the military.

Mr. Keane: No, but it's a needs analysis, sir. I agree with you.

Senator Meredith: Thank you for your candidness in terms of this discussion of matters that this committee is very keen on moving forward with. Mr. Theriault and Senator White mentioned safety and the equipment needed to ensure that officers and the general public are protected.

I am posing a combined question with respect to morale and organizational change taking place within the RCMP. Then there is terrorism and terrorism financing. Could you look at how that will be balanced out?

A staff member on the previous panel mentioned sick time, leave and so forth. If I were an officer, I would be looking to see how I protect myself emotionally, financially and so forth, and then the other aspect of the broader terrorism piece would sort of take a backseat.

Could you elaborate on how to balance out equipment and organizational needs at this time?

Mr. Keane: It comes down to consultation. Nobody has ever consulted the end user. A lot of the stuff is top-down and Ottawa driven. The user in Nova Scotia and the user in Chilliwack, British Columbia, could need two different things. We have that ability with a collective agreement and the people I represent have some great knowledge on all of those subjects. Why don't we just talk to them?

I don't know what studies they are using. That's an issue too. For a lot of the stuff I have seen come down there's nothing to support it. Scientific support would be good.

[Translation]

Senator Saint-Germain: My question is for Mr. Thériault. You indicated earlier that a discrepancy existed between what RCMP leadership commits to publicly and what it does in reality. You cited the example of Alberta, where four officers were unfortunately killed. The leadership pledged to provide officers with better weapons, but it did not do so.

Can you give us other examples of commitments made publicly, during parliamentary committee proceedings or otherwise, that RCMP leadership did not honour?

Mr. Thériault: An observation I made, while working in Moncton and in speaking with many other people across the country, was that management would frequently point to the future implementation of measures to fill vacant positions or those left temporarily vacant as a result of paternity, maternity or long-term sick leave, for example. Oftentimes, those positions were not staffed. Management tells us that they are looking into the situation, but we don’t necessarily see any changes on the ground.

Senator Saint-Germain: Do you have any other examples?

Mr. Thériault: It is clear that the RCMP is a cumbersome bureaucracy that can be slow to take action. In the case of the carbines we were talking about, other police departments and federal forces acquired the equipment up to a decade before us. It took many studies and a considerable amount of time before the RCMP acquired the equipment.

It took a long time before we got ballistic plates. My unit did not get them until 2013, but we don’t understand why it took so long for the RCMP to provide us with the equipment when other federal forces already had it. We were also talking about radios. In many jurisdictions such as St. Albert and Moncton, we have trouble communicating with one another because of the radios and systems that are 20 to 30 years old, or more.

[English]

The Chair: I want to thank our witnesses for appearing. We very much appreciate the time you have taken out of your schedule. If you have anything further you want to add, please send it to us in writing and we will definitely peruse it.

Joining us in panel four for an update is Mr. Charles Mancer, Vice-President, Quebec Mounted Police Members Association, accompanied by Marc-André Fournier, Director. We understand you have an opening statement. Please begin.

[Translation]

Charles Mancer, Vice-President, Quebec Mounted Police Association: My name is Charles Mancer, and joining me is my colleague Marc-André Fournier. I am the vice-president of the Quebec Mounted Police Association. My presentation will be short. Above all, I would like to tell you a bit about myself and my area of expertise to give you some insight into who I am. We would then be happy to answer your questions.

I have been with the RCMP for 17 years. I began my career in Surrey, British Columbia. I spent three years in the force working on contract. I then worked in Montreal, mainly in the area of financial crimes such as money laundering and fraud, and that became my specialty. I also worked as an employee representative under the former division staff relations representative program, which the Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional. I am also an adviser under the new system that the RCMP introduced on May 17 of last year, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision.

I have done studies in various fields, including two years in engineering and two years in management at McGill University, where I earned a certificate. I have a degree in civil law from Université de Montréal and a degree in common law from the University of Ottawa. I am also a member of the Ontario bar.

Over the past 12 months, I have spent a tremendous amount of time, as association vice-president, trying to convince RCMP members to meet the legal requirements to establish a union. Convincing members to sign cards has been very tough.

The first important point I would like to make is this. The people working in RCMP associations are volunteers. The situation is very different from those set out in other pieces of legislation you will consider; in those statutes, unions have significant financial resources. Our associations do not have the luxury of such financial resources. We operate on a volunteer basis through amounts paid by RCMP members. The big difference, legally speaking, is that RCMP members do not have the right to join a union.

I met with members of the metalworkers union, and I learned that they have a strike fund of $400 million and extensive resources. They told me that, for a union representing 18,000 employees — which would be more or less comparable to our situation in the RCMP — they would have a budget in the neighbourhood of $9 million. We are a long way from having millions of dollars in our budget.

In order to better serve the public, it is necessary to resolve the union issue swiftly, and the solution needs to take into account funding and the work done by volunteers like Marc-André and me in our spare time. The sooner a union is established, the sooner you will be able to address the issues you are examining to us so that we can discuss them against the backdrop of a balanced employer-employee relationship.

I would now be glad to answer any questions you have.

Senator Jaffer: Thank you for being here. We very much appreciate it.

[English]

In your appearance on Bill C-7 you stated that there were a number of exclusions and you were quite vocal in the internal grievance process. You were saying that at the moment there's an internal grievance process run by the RCMP. These internal grievance decision makers are commissioned officers but they're below the commissioner. Aside from the bias inherent in that they cannot make decisions that the commissioner does not like. Do you still hold that same opinion?

Mr. Mancer: Could you repeat the end of your question about the commissioner?

Senator Jaffer: These officers immediately under the commissioner of police tend to make decisions that the commissioner likes. That's what you said last time. I want to know if the situation is still the same.

[Translation]

Mr. Mancer: The situation is still the same. Improvements were made, and a reformed RCMP grievance system came into force in November 2014. The improvements, however, are not sufficient. What is important to understand is that members file grievances in an effort to find a solution to their problem. Under the old system, it took five to six years to arrive at a result. It now takes between one and two years. If a member turns to the officers to resolve their problem and a resolution cannot be reached, the member has to go beyond the grievance system. In November 2014, Bill C-42 came into force, but the impact on those types of cases has been very slight.

I should also mention the RCMP conduct process. The commissioner appeared before you and asked for broad powers to resolve problems within the RCMP. Bill C-42 gave those powers to the commissioner. How did those broad powers affect the conduct process? Prior to November 2014, approximately 200 conduct cases had to be dealt with annually. In 2015, that number grew to 700, three-and-a-half times more.

In practical terms, what does that increase mean? RCMP members worry that conduct measures will be used against them. From my experience as an adviser and association vice-president, I would say that most of the conduct measures imposed have been vexatious and without grounds. The commissioner sent a message down the chain of command: if conduct authorities do not impose conduct measures, they will be held personally responsible. The officers in question are fearful and impose conduct measures as a result.

What this means from a resource standpoint is that accused members who see the measures as vexatious become disengaged. If they remain in the RCMP, they no longer have the same level of commitment. Some members I have represented have resigned. One particular member was accused of three conduct violations. He had done his job properly, but the officer in question determined that it was not enough and initiated conduct measures. In the end, the member was cleared of two of the alleged violations and found guilty on the third. He has appealed, and I am convinced he will be cleared of the third violation as well. The member resigned, however. He had 11 years of service under his belt and was very qualified.

We are talking about the lack of resources, but I would argue that we should be using the resources we currently have properly. The member who left the RCMP with 11 years of service was highly qualified, but he found another job. The focus is on the grievance system, but the conduct process is problematic as well.

[English]

Senator White: My question surrounds contact with members of the RCMP. Within most workplaces it is a single location or maybe a couple of locations where contact with potential future union members is done through bulletin boards and things like that.

Is it true that you're not permitted to have access to the internal mail system to contact members of the RCMP just to gauge whether or not they're interested in certification?

[Translation]

Mr. Mancer: That is an excellent question. Thank you for asking about how we communicate with members. Just to put things in context for you, I would again point out that, unlike a union, we can’t afford to post someone outside every building on a daily basis in order to approach members. In addition, it is prohibited to communicate with them using the email system. I know that some individuals who belong to associations have sent emails out and are now facing conduct measures. We have looked into the matter, and it does appear to be subject to the act.

According to the Public Service Labour Relations Board, the act prohibits the use of the email system. What means are we left with, then, to contact members in the workplace? The act permits contact outside work hours. If memory serves me correctly, I believe that falls under section 187 of the Public Service Labour Relations Act.

I ran into this problem on May 20, 2016, when I was with Paul Dupuis, the president of the Quebec Mounted Police Members’ Association. We went to RCMP headquarters in Montreal to let members know that we had rented commercial space next door, on Green Street, a local where they could come and ask us questions or sign cards. The commanding officer was notified that I was on the premises. I was on vacation, so it was not during work hours, but he imposed conduct measures on me for being on the employer’s premises for the purpose of, in his view, soliciting union membership. I filed a complaint with the labour relations board, and I expect my case to be heard in late March. In the meantime, I was accused of a breach of conduct simply for accompanying Paul Dupuis, who, for some reason, was not accused.

The process of getting membership cards signed is extremely challenging. We do not have enough resources for the job. If there is one lesson to be drawn here, today, let it be this: the sooner a union is established in the RCMP, the sooner the problems will be resolved. Creating a regime where 40 per cent or 50 per cent of employees need to have signed cards is a monumental task, especially given the specific context of the RCMP, which currently has three associations. Quebec’s association has remained at the provincial level, so there is no issue in that regard. Nevertheless, two competing associations exist, and they do not want to unite at this time. Whatever the solution ends up being, it will have to take into account the dichotomy between the two current associations.

[English]

Senator White: I appreciate your case is in relation to Quebec, but do you understand it is also an issue with any other organization that is trying to certify across the country in 800 communities, with some isolated from Tuktoyaktuk to Fogo Island? Is that correct?

Marc-André Fournier, Director, Quebec Mounted Police Members' Association: The reality we're facing is tremendous. Quite frankly I don't know how we're going to make it happen as quickly as we'd like to.

To add to your question so that you understand what kind of employer we're facing now, we have code of conduct situations like Mr. Mancer is facing right now. You have to ask yourself: What is the end goal?

As has been said by the previous associations, our goal is to work with management to better our situation. All the steps that have been taken so far show us otherwise. I had to take my personal trailer and my personal truck, park them in front of our HQ in Montreal so that members could come inside to sign. We were faced with people who were afraid of getting in my trailer because they were being videotaped and they didn't want that to hinder their careers.

I'll let you come to your own conclusion as to what we're facing as far as the other problems we may have financially or territorially. We're also facing a big machine and it will be hard to make it happen.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: Thank you to both of our witnesses. If I understood you correctly, Mr. Mancer, the employer is not making it easy for you to get membership cards signed. In other words, all the work has to happen outside the workplace. Your colleague mentioned that people could be seen getting in the truck to sign and that it made the process challenging. What do you think would be an acceptable percentage of signed membership cards in order for RCMP officers to establish a union? You cannot afford to contact members, so would the figure be 30 per cent? Forty per cent? You have to have a certain percentage in order to establish a union. What percentage do you see as being reasonable?

Mr. Mancer: I don’t think it should be any higher than 30 per cent and, ideally, 25 per cent. That would be enough. I want to stress how difficult it has been for us. In Quebec, the employer has been using intimidation, which has made it extremely tough for us to get managers to sign cards. Yes, people are afraid to get in the truck to sign their membership cards, but we are also having trouble finding people to sign the cards. For that reason, 30 per cent should be the maximum requirement and, as I said, ideally 25 per cent. That is based on the old one-third, one-third, one-third rule: a third of people support unionizing, a third of people do not care one way or the other and need convincing, and a third of people are against it.

Senator Dagenais: I realize that the federal labour legislation requires unions to have membership cards. As you pointed out, though, if the RCMP had its own union or association, its employees would not be able to belong to another union. It would have to be a single union, as is the case with most police organizations. It seems to me that the card-signing process could be eliminated in favour of a secret ballot vote, which would ease your burden tremendously. Is that what I am to understand? No police organization has ever had membership cards; police officers are hired and automatically enrolled in the union. Then, a secret ballot vote is held. Do I understand correctly that a secret ballot vote would make things easier for you?

Mr. Mancer: The quickest solution would be the one that allows us to elect representatives. It would be a good thing if the card-signing step were eliminated. In that case, a vote could be held in two stages. The first vote would be on whether to establish a union, and if the result were yes, the second vote would be to choose the association with the mandate to represent employees. Very quickly, we would arrive at an association representing members.

Bear in mind, however, that Bill C-7 would solely allow the unionization of the RCMP’s 24,000 members. The legislation would be tailor-made for members of the RCMP. Everyone else in the government is unionized. This bill, An Act to amend the Public Service Labour Relations Act, currently before the committee, would be tailor-made for RCMP members. I urge you to support a bill specifically designed to fix the problems we are facing. This is a luxury we are in desperate need of this time around.

Senator Dagenais: I gather that a secret ballot vote would fix your problem.

Mr. Mancer: If a secret ballot leads to a quick election, then, yes.

[English]

Senator Meredith: My question is with respect to collaboration of the federation, the association and the Quebec Mounted Police Members Association. What kind of collaboration is there? Are you working together? You're going after the same members and the same resources with respect to signing up and so forth? What collaboration is taking place among all three?

[Translation]

Mr. Mancer: The Quebec association has, since the beginning, been calling for all three associations to unite under a single banner, but we have not been able to get there. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but cooperation is lacking. At this stage, I do not see the Ontario association, the National Police Federation, and the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, which was created in British Columbia, coming together. That is how great the divide is. There is little cooperation, so a tailor-made bill is necessary to address the problem. Be it through a vote or card signing, we have to deal with it in order to get around the problem. For a year, I have been trying to work towards a merger, but that will not happen. The Quebec association is in contact with the other two, but they do not communicate with one another.

[English]

Senator Meredith: My concern, Mr. Mancer, is the problems we've heard from all three of you with respect to morale and lack of resources and so forth continue while these three associations duel it out for this kind of membership.

The members are still not further advanced with respect to your coming together. How will we get there? In terms of the broader security risk to Canadians on the whole, how do we get there?

Mr. Mancer: I will tell you one very important thing. The faster we have an election so that we can select the members, who will represent other members, the better it is going to be.

[Translation]

The associations are merely containers at this point. The content is the election of those representatives. It is simply a matter of passing a bill that will make it possible for us to hold that election. We could even establish rules governing the first election. I don’t think, however, it will be possible to get there any other way.

[English]

Mr. Fournier: In short, if you were to ask RCMP members tomorrow to take a vote on whether or not they will vote for a union, I think it is an unequivocal yes, the member who will vote want a union.

Who will represent them? That is another story. You need to realize is that if you can provide us with a legislative framework that will make it easier for us to be accredited as fast possible, then members will get representation, and representation will get us all the issues we have discussed today: better resources, better pay and better everything.

Senator Meredith: Yes, we get that. We know that. We need to ensure that we have legislation so that you're fully accredited and so forth.

On the broader scope, Mr. Mancer, you talked about your background in finance. We see that over 300 individuals in Canada have been identified as radicalized and in fact 400 cases have been identified with respect to terrorism financing.

Could you elaborate for me what needs to be done on that front, given the fact it is your membership that investigates and brings these charges to the fore?

[Translation]

Mr. Mancer: What we need to be able to do is motivate the people who do the investigative work for us to get them engaged in the investigations. At this point, people are concerned about being saddled with conduct complaints. They are worried about taking the actions that the investigation requires. In fact, I, as an adviser, tell them to be cautious, given that conduct measures are thrown at them for vexatious allegations. The people who are supposed to be protecting you are, they, themselves scared and have to protect themselves.

This ties in with the equipment and resource shortage I talked about. What I am saying is that current resources are being underutilized and that most members are afraid to take action and therefore simply follow orders. The safest way to operate in the RCMP is to follow the orders of your superior.

[English]

You can do no wrong if you follow those orders.

[Translation]

That is the problem. The RCMP is supposed to follow certain rules that apply in business, such as 3M innovation, whereby innovation is part of the corporate culture. As soon as someone approaches an investigation through an innovative lens, the likelihood of being able to identify the one person out of 300 who genuinely intends to commit a crime or set off a bomb goes up. Having confidence in members and their expertise is key.

Right now, no expertise even exists. People do a rotation of two, three or four years, and, then, they work somewhere else. What that lack of expertise does is significantly lower the chances of identifying a potential terrorist after having an initial contact with them, because, on the basis of the clues, it would have been necessary to speak with 20 or 30 people before being able to see and recognize patterns.

All of that ties in with creating a balanced workplace, one that includes a union. Thank you.

[English]

The Chair: Colleagues, I want to get something straight on the record. In view of the fact that Bill C-7 has not proceeded, am I to understand you're in a position that you really cannot organize because there's not a legislative framework to put in place whatever union is chosen for the purpose of negotiating a collective agreement? Is my understanding correct?

[Translation]

Mr. Mancer: The answer is simple. Right now, the existing Public Service Labour Relations Act is the legislation governing us, and it requires written evidence that 40 per cent of employees have signed cards. We have not reached 40 per cent, nor have the associations individually. Even collectively, we do not have 40 per cent.

[English]

The Chair: So that we are clear, you're working under the Public Service Labour Relations Act as it presently exists and for the purpose of what you're doing.

Mr. Mancer: Yes.

Senator White: I have a supplementary question. If I understand correctly, the new legislation Bill C-4 to amend the public service labour relations legislation, and not Bill C-7, would allow you to go forward to a labour board without 40 per cent. Isn't that correct?

[Translation]

Mr. Mancer: I have spent many hours mulling over that very question. As it currently stands, Bill C-4 — I have it here, with me — specifically states that the Canada Industrial Relations Board must be satisfied that the association represents the majority of employees. I am not sure how the board will interpret that. It appears in new subsection 64(1)(a).

[English]

Senator White: Not to debate but to be fair, my understanding was that you have an opportunity to appear and explain why the majority is not available to you.

In the case of the RCMP, with 800 communities, 700 and some detachments located across every province and territory from here to Timbuktu and back, my understanding is there would be an opportunity in that legislation.

I got from the other two organizations that they are looking for a national police association or union. My understanding was that Bill C-4 would allow that to occur. You're legally trained and I am not.

Mr. Fournier: I would say it depends on your definition of majority. If the majority is 50 plus one, we're going back in time because right now we have to satisfy 40 per cent.

Mr. Mancer: The solution offered in clause 65 says that the board may order that a representation vote be taken.

Senator White: That's right. It gives you an argument.

[Translation]

Mr. Mancer: From a legislative framework standpoint, it could be clearer; some clarity would certainly be helpful.

[English]

The Chair: Colleagues, obviously there is some lack of clarity.

Mr. Mancer: Can I add one comment before you close?

The Chair: Go ahead.

[Translation]

Mr. Mancer: I was curious as to why the current government feared unionization and why the elements were in place to prevent us from moving forward quickly. One factor that always has to be taken into account with respect to unionization is the financial component. I have, here, a document I intend to submit to the committee. It is simply an arbitration analysis. The adjudicator must consider certain provisions of the act before raising wages or granting additional benefits. That is covered in section 148 of the Public Service Labour Relations Act. It is also dealt with in new section 238.21, pursuant to Bill C-7. In all cases, the adjudicator must take into account the government’s financial capacity.

I also included the remarks of Manon Brassard, from Treasury Board, to the House of Commons. She clearly stated that she anticipated an increase of 0.25 per cent budget-wise.

I will leave those documents with you for your consideration. No major costs are attached to the arbitration or unionization of the RCMP. Therefore, I don’t understand why things are not moving along more quickly. I have no answer to that.

[English]

The Chair: Sir, I can assure you we're asking the same question. That's in part why you're here, and we certainly appreciate the fact that you've taken the time to come here.

We would like to excuse our witnesses, and we will take a two-minute suspension and then go in camera to discuss a couple of issues.

(The committee continued in camera.)